What feelings and emotions are generated within others—whether teammates, family, friends, or customers—when you sincerely and unselfishly accept responsibility for errors and decisions that did not produce desired results? Instantly others rally around you. Past problems and mistakes have now been accounted for and they are free to let go of the past and move forward to tackle the present and future. Your teammates respect your courage, honesty, and willingness to express your human fallibility. As you demonstrate your humility, you motivate others to seek win-win solutions rather than to waste valuable energy seeking a target for their frustration and fear. The moment you say, “I am responsible. I didn’t do a good enough job,” “I made a poor decision,” or "I did not come through for you," the uncertainty that fuels the upset is over. Then, when you honestly express your commitment to improve your performance, others are ready to refresh their support and optimism.
Full accountability, like real empathy, cannot be contrived or play-acted. Extraordinary coaches thrive on taking responsibility during difficult times because they recognize how it helps remove debilitating guilt and pressure from their teammates. They also realize that accepting full accountability does not mean they must beat themselves up.
When you state publicly that your actions have not produced the results you sought, you do not blame yourself. You simply accept the reality that new and different actions are necessary. Your effort and motives may have been well-intended, but change is required to create success. When your new actions create better results, give credit and praise to others without hesitation. Responsibility is something you take, especially during the tough times; credit is something you give whenever you see the opportunity.