Archive for Responsibility

One Man One Kit

own-itI have a friend who was in the military and one evening over dinner he and his wife were discussing their training for an upcoming lengthy backpacking trip where the wife was slowly increasing weight by adding 10lb bags of sugar each week in order to build up to the experience. It was the first time I’d heard the expression, “One man. One kit”.

Those four little words convey so much meaning.

A military ‘kit’ is comprised of 90+ lbs of military supplies used while deployed on mission or training. The expression is clear in its understanding – it is your job to take care of your own equipment. You pack it, you haul it, and you bring it back. (I am not military – so please, if you are, feel free to correct me if my understanding is incorrect.) What impressed me the most about the saying ‘one man, one kit’ is its use is very applicable for our roles in companies.

You have a job to do, it is your job and you are responsible for the outcome.

On a military mission, there will be roadblocks, challenges and one might even encounter the enemy, no matter what happens, you are responsible for your part of the mission and your own kit. This doesn’t mean your squadron or troop won’t step-up when you are down, it means you are responsible for your part in the mission.

Used in accordance within a company, if everyone owns and takes care of their own ‘stuff’ it becomes much easier to work together, have each other’s backs, and work as one so no person is dragged down by having to bear the weight or ‘kit’ of another unless that person truly needs a hand. Unnecessarily over-burdening another when you are fully capable of doing the job builds resentment and frustration in a team. There are always exceptions to a rule or times when one needs to get a little help, but the point here is to be responsible and accountable for what you were hired to do.

Owning your own ‘stuff’ contributes to a healthy organization. One man. One kit.

There are many leadership lessons that translate from the military to corporate, do you have any to share?


Own It to Change It

Own_It_Change_It How does organizational change occur?

Change occurs because people, just like you and me, made the decision to change. How that decision came about may be different for each individual involved; the motivator, influence or even traumatic event that may occur and spur someone toward change is usually personal and unique to each.

In the end, change occurred because the individual decided to take responsibility for their contribution to the current state of affairs & take action toward the future.

Every stakeholder involved plays an instrument in the orchestra of change.

Successful, sustained change occurs when someone owns and takes responsibility for their individual piece of the musical score, especially if it achieved a not-so-appealing outcome based on past performance.

Change is hard. It involves leaving our comfort zones, habits or belief systems and developing new ones. The transition is messy while we figure out how to accomplish new behaviours. There will even be a few mistakes along the way and people will need to readjust, (forgive), move forward and shift action. It can be awkward or frustrating. Keeping the whole orchestra (organization) and the final performance (goals) in focus will help.

  • Each person needs to know what instrument they play and how that instrument contributes to the whole.
  • Each person will need their own sheet music and it will be slightly different than someone playing a different instrument.
  • Each person will need to own their personal performance AND how they perform along with others. (You’ve all heard music when one instrument is off or out of tune.)

Making change is not about laying blame, it’s about being responsible for and owning ‘what doesn’t work’ or is no longer sustainable action – owning it personally in your corner of the stage – and it will take practice. Equally important to successful change is collaborating with others, following the beat or lead of another, being supportive of and aligning with other members of the orchestra, not to mention caring deeply about those people who will bear witness to the performance.

Own it to change it…

With luck, your orchestra has a supportive and active conductor guiding you along the way.

P.S. If you have an absentee or a non supportive conductor, you are still part of an orchestra and need to own your part in the overall performance in spite of a lack of leadership. Working together WITH the other musicians toward the greater performance is the best way to win with change.

P.P.S. Pointing fingers at others and blaming a lack of leadership as an excuse for poor performance or a bad attitude is a cop-out that shifts responsibility to others – this is a lose-lose activity. Win-Win activities involve owning it to change it.



Does Your Business Need a Weed Whacker?


Do you ever walk around your neighbourhood and wonder about the people living there? I do. I, like most, will gather a first impression about someone by how they take care of their yard. Some people have immaculate yards, some nicely maintain a yard and others, well, they might want to think about living in a condo! The next time you walk through your neighbourhood, contemplate the conclusions you develop about the home owners in your neighbourhood. We all do it!

In his book “Blink”, Malcolm Gladwell writes about ‘rapid cognition, thinking that happens in the blink of an eye’. He says that in the first two seconds your mind jumps to a series of conclusions about something. You don’t have 30 seconds or 15 seconds; you have 2 seconds before conclusions are drawn from a person’s first impression. That’s a pretty powerful piece of information.

No one gets to choose a neighbour; they come and go based on influences outside of our control. We do, however, have to live with them, (so to speak). People care for their own little piece of land and convey an impression based on what they wish to put forth revealing what they hope the world to know or believe about them. Others don’t think it matters.

Conclusions are immediately drawn by immaculate yard owners about messy yard owners and it doesn’t matter if the untidy owners are Nobel Peace Prize winners, our immaculate yard owner will have them painted with a sour and even angry brush.

What do yards have to do with Leadership and Customer Service?

The first impression you or your company offers is astoundingly important.

Great sales people know this and present themselves appropriately to the customer based on customer values. Companies with large marketing departments know this and present a consistent Brand or Image while spending thousands on learning more about their customers.
Small businesses who serve an exclusive clientele are exceptional at it and con-artists could teach courses in it.

Making a great first impression!

That first impression is the key to building a longer relationship with prospective customers. Even more importantly, companies who are good at it know their market enough to “dress” to the market. They know what the customer values and expects and successful businesses meet that expectation.

In business, some leaders begin to lose sight of what’s there, much like a teenager won’t notice the dust in a home or will walk over something in their way without picking it up; business owners will forget to LOOK at their business with the keen eye of a new prospective customer. A restaurant will forget to dust the three-hundred dollar hand blown light fixtures; another business owner doesn’t notice their sign has 2 unlit letters.

First impressions are about the details and a customer can see and capture hundreds of details in a split second. Customers look at an exclusive price on a menu and wonder where the money is going, dust on the lights, a broken glass panel, bathroom is dated, etc. Then they draw a 2 second conclusion: “This restaurant is not worth the money I am paying.”, and they choose not to return, even if the food is exceptional.

Don’t fall into the trap of believing your product or service is the only reason your customer is there.

Consumers come wanting some personal ‘feel good’ about having spent money with you, especially in difficult times. Consumers are watching their pennies and want to make sure they have a decent experience for their dollar. You are feeding their emotions as much as you are supplying them with goods or services. Offering an exceptional experience along with goods and services will make a huge difference in both gaining that prospective customer and keeping them.

When cutting costs, be aware of what first impressions you make with a potential client and what kind of an experience you are providing your existing customer. Take away the experience, and you risk losing them. Check out your competition, or even the area in which your business is located, does your store-front, building, awning or reception area provide a better first impression than other businesses or are you the neighbour who doesn’t think it matters?

What if that messy, weed-filled and overgrown yard is owned by a Nobel Peace Prize winner and she lives next to you? Do you care about her brain or are you frustratingly wishing she would clean up her act so all the weeds don’t spread to your side of the yard? Are you wanting to invite her over for a BBQ and laude her intelligence or do you just wish she would move?

Leaders, how about you, does your business need a weed whacker?

Strategic Sense is a Leadership Development, Customer Service, Plans of Action and Facilitation organization who’s mission is to change the world for the better for leaders and their employees everywhere. We believe each individual comes with their own unique talents and skills that can be enhanced and utilized to help them become the very best leaders only they can be while providing exceptional service to their customers.

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Personal Responsibility – Not Just A Buzz-Phrase!


Part 1

We’ve heard it used in the political arena (one party requesting the other party to adopt it); we’ve heard it used in the media, and we ask why it no longer seems to exist in our society. We talk about it when we see large companies receiving government financial bail-outs then squandering the bail-out dollars on lavish offices and private jets. We’ve all worked for companies where some individuals display a flagrant and unashamed lack of it.

So, what is personal responsibility?

Taking Personal Responsibility is when we take responsibility for ourselves and our own actions.


I believe this means responsibility for all your choices in:

· relationships

·  life direction

· career

· how you feel  and react to events

· how you feel and react to people

· where your life has landed

· working toward future goals


Personal Responsibility does not only come into play after an action but also before and during every action and taking personal responsibility has positive effects in our lives.

· We stop being a victim of the world

· We earn respect both from others and for ourselves.

· We grow up and realize we are the catalyst for the creation that is us


I believe in personal responsibility!

I believe that life doesn’t just happen to us, that we have the potential to create our own destiny and we can do that as individuals and as a collective depending on the choices made. In the end, we must own the choices personally. That ownership forces us to accept we have and own the power for our lives. It forces us to engage in better decision making and planning for ourselves and it helps us to create and forge better relationships with others.

As the leader of my own life, it’s my job to take responsibility for any actions that have lead me to be where I am right now – good or bad! The beauty of this statement is that each and every thing I have ever done has brought me to this very point in my life which means each and every thing I can do in the future has the potential to bring me to a different place, if I so choose.

One of the most difficult experiences to manage in a company is when an employee, or worse yet a manager, lays blame for their lack of success on others.

“It’s because of <insert event or name here> that I was unable to make that sale…close that deal…complete the project…etc.”

“If it wasn’t for <insert event or name here> I would have been ____…owned ____…accomplished ____…etc.”

We’ve all heard the litany of excuses and the feverish pitch of blame tossed around by someone deflecting responsibility and most of us have even partaken in the avoidance of Personal Responsibility once or twice ourselves. What does it accomplish? Nothing positive!

Many companies work diligently to create accountability measures to ensure employees and managers alike are held responsible for the work they have been entrusted to do. The reality is, no accountability measures can replace personal responsibility, because personal ownership of ones actions go far deeper than a company can reach.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this post!

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Strategic Sense Inc Specializes in working with Executives of companies who care about the people and know the business they do is being done by the people in their employ. Leadership, Communication, Strategy, Plans of Action.