Do You Think All Responsibility Is Personal?

Everyday Google-bots comb the net bringing me posts by journalists, bloggers, politicos, celebs and others about responsibility and accountability. Out of those posts, 99.54 percent of them are terribly uninteresting, mainly Lay Blame rants along the lines of “when is someone going to take responsibility and accountability for (name your injustice)?” That should help you understand why I want to redefine the way society thinks about responsibility.

But two blog posts caught my eye this morning.

In A Corporationless Society, a post on a prolific new blog devoted to discussions about designing role-playing games, the anonymous author (I’m sure insiders on the blog know each other but I spent 10 minutes searching for ID and gave up. They aren’t super-secret, they use names, I just did not get it unraveled.), suggests that corporate limited liability is the reason for too much greed and not enough responsibility. He/she has an interesting story-line for a game: Society restarts without corporations after being brought down by mega-corporations with mega-greed, no controls, too much power, etc.

It makes me wonder about the trendy supposed “greening” of corporations and the whole Corporate Social Responsibility movement. I’m absolutely certain that some leaders completely get the need to own up to their external interdependence. That’s a fancy term I learned in an organizational sociology class in grad school 25 years ago that simply means dumping your unwanted waste on others to take care of (think conveniently pumping your post processing chemical sludge into a river and sending it downstream, or strip-mining then abandoning the countryside after you have what you want, or even helping yourself to all of the natural resource under, over, on, or running by your property (remember some former societies did not believe in owning parcels of land) without regard to who else also depends on it.

The issue, in modern terms of value and quality, is whether you are truly creating value or if the supposed value your customers pay you for is offset by the destruction (i.e., think carbon-foot-print type analogies here) you cause in generating the product or service that produces revenue.

On this subject I speculated yesterday while answering a question on LinkedIn about the connection between personal responsibility as a cultural attribute and corporate social responsibility. I said:

What I’m finding is that the more highly developed one’s sense (and practice) of personal responsibility, the more aware we become of our interconnectedness, and the more socially conscious we become. So I’m interested in working with leaders worldwide who see a connection between personal responsibility as an organization-wide practice and performance, profitability, social responsibility, and sustainability.

So then I read Clarity, Honesty, Responsibility, and Accountability this morning by a spiritual teacher Rakesh Gupta who I assume is in India. I spent a few minutes attempting to determine what spiritual persuasion (Hindu, Buddhist, etc.) but it truly does not matter for purposes of this post as the lesson is universal. Rakesh Gupta said:

One takes Responsibility. One takes responsibility upon recognizing one’s relationships.

That’s very well put.

Posted in Leadership, Responsibility on 08/29/2008 09:46 am
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