Principle 3: Seek and Accept Responsibility

In this series of posts, I’m looking over the 10 principles of leadership that are taught to cadets (12-18 year olds). Typically, these principles are discussed in a cadets 3rd year when they are 14-15 years old. It’s amazing how relevant these principles remain. Onto principle 3:

Seek and accept responsibility – One of the most important characteristics of a good leader is the ability to accept challenges with confidence and enthusiasm. To do this, a cadet who aspires to leadership must develop a sound mental attitude. This attitude should be characterized by a lively interest, an avid curiousity and a determination to strive for higher personal achievement. Some ways in which you can go about developing responsibilities among your cadets are:

  • Encourage them to attain qualifications for promotion.
  • Give senior people responsibilities and authority to carry them out.
  • Develop pride in the corps and the cadets.

The most interesting thing about the above principle is the examples that are given — specifically the latter two. In one instance, it encourages giving senior people on your team (who may not have official responsibilities) the ability to take on a larger role. By developing people in this type of leadership capacity, it builds your team’s ability to carry bigger and more complex projects.

The latter is also pretty neat — as part of our responsibility, we need to build up morale as well. This includes being proud of the Public Service and building a pride within our organization. This can be difficult at times, depending on the circumstances in which we find ourselves, but nonetheless it is something we need to work towards.

Perhaps the biggest lesson we have from this is taking on initiative — identifying gaps and figuring out a way to fill that gap. In some cases, it’s a process that needs to be fixed. In other cases, it’s a much larger problem that requires our attention. To attack these problems, we need to bodly put forth ideas and actually accept the responsibility to take action.

This means taking risks as well — even with our own personal careers. This is easier said than done, depending on our own circumstances. One of my favourite quotes from Jon Stewart is something along the lines of, “If you don’t stand up for your values when they’re challenged, then they’re not values — they’re hobbies.” When we put ideas out there, we need to accept the responsibility for putting them out there — including the consequences.

Even if it’s just a briefing note to your director with some suggestions for improvement, putting concrete solutions around identified problems is a way to push ourselves forward.

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