The Seven Characteristics That Set Great Leaders Apart, Part Two: Take Personal Responsibility

In this second installment of the series, “The Seven Characteristics that Set Great Leaders Apart,” Valencia leaders share their experiences and philosophies that guide their actions with the second characteristic, personal responsibility, in mind. The foundation for this seven-part series was outlined in the TLNT magazine article written by Michelle M. Smith, vice president of business development at O.C. Tanner.

Take Personal Responsibility

Follow rules, report facts accurately, treat people fairly, and don’t lie, cheat or steal to advance your agenda. Hold yourself accountable for your actions and decisions and for the actions of the people under your authority. Don’t make excuses, take the blame when things go wrong and make sure those who do the work get the credit when things go right. Attack root causes of problems and never blame others.

Leonard Bass, campus dean, learning support on East Campus, shared that in his leadership role he has adopted the notion that respect is not a by-product of fear. It is trust, appreciation, fairness and the like that begets respect, not fear. leonard-bass-270w

“Throughout my career it has been those who led selflessly and with a genuine care, appreciation and respect for their employees and the students they serve, that have been the most effective and productive leaders. This is a guiding belief that influences the way I try to live and lead.”

Leonard has observed many team members in his area giving others credit for work and successful projects within the division. Leonard explained that his team recently launched a new program, SEEUCF (Successful Early Exploration of UCF), to support the transfer process by introducing Student Life Skills students to campus life, academic programs and the faculty at the University of Central Florida.

After sharing the idea, he asked his team to lead the work and gave them the freedom to make it happen. He reported that the team worked quickly and intensely to develop the program by forming important partnerships and working together to create a meaningful program for students. “They all took responsibility for their part of the work,” Leonard shared.

Leonard allowed his team to work through challenges and make decisions. The result is a great program that many students are benefiting from and stronger relationships with key partners externally and internally.

Nick Bekas, campus dean, academic affairs on West Campus, commented that “taking personal responsibility means being self-aware of how what you say and do impacts others. Taking responsibility is something that is built over a lifetime. Acknowledging that you are fallible as a leader helps you understand when your actions have impacted people negatively and allows you to address the situation with integrity.” nick-bekas-270w

Nick is inspired to witness others demonstrate the characteristic of personal responsibility, because it helps him reflect on his actions and the way he leads. “Hearing someone say, ‘I messed up, but here is how I am going to fix this’ shows that you have the confidence to acknowledge you made a mistake and will take responsibility for a solution to fix it.”

Diane Fahr, director, financial services at the Downtown Center, explained that accountability in her department is a primary focus. “Our department is accountable for College property and accounts payable. It is essential for us to report information and process payments accurately and timely. To that end, we routinely train staff on accuracy in invoice processing and inventory of College assets. If a mistake is made (by accounts payable or property management), I assume responsibility and turn those mistakes into learning opportunities.”diane-fahr-270w

Diane is committed to the success of her team and is dedicated to supporting her staff members in developing their skills. “I take mentoring very seriously. I regularly meet with staff to see what direction they want to take at Valencia and in life and how I can help them reach their goals. I view myself and my role as the chalice that holds the lit candle. I provide support and guidance to sustain their flames of inspiration, motivation and empowerment. I gently guide my staff members toward lifelong learning as a means to reach their goals effectively.”

The characteristics of treating people fairly, taking the blame when things go wrong and giving credit for a job well done set the stage for leadership success.

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