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Nobody Is More Responsible for Our Growth Than We Are

While other people may hold the title of supervisor or trainer, nobody is more responsible for our growth than we are.

I was recently speaking with a leader whose entire industry was put in limbo because of the COVID pandemic. People were working remotely and, like everyone, there was a lot of uncertainty. As the business began to rebound, it became clear that Alice, one of his newer employees, had fallen well behind.

As a result, Alice began to make excuses for her lack of growth. She blamed the pandemic and her lack of training for her stagnation. The problem was that Alice never called for help, never asked questions, and never took the initiative to talk to a tenured peer. She just waited for her supervisors to initiate her growth.

To his credit, the leader took responsibility for not having a more robust and detailed training plan for new hires. It is a leader’s moral obligation to develop the people they are called to lead. And this leader vowed that a more concrete training plan was in development for the future.

But the leader was frustrated with Alice, and rightly so! Alice’s response to the lack of formalized training created doubt. Her leaders doubted Alice’s drive and her peers doubted Alice’s reliability. You can sum up their collective thoughts as, “Since she’s not taking the initiative herself, does that mean we have to spoon feed her everything?”

Because Alice’s team did not trust her, they gave her only the most basic of tasks and marginalized her participation as much as possible. This stunted her growth even further and Alice felt like she was on an island.

We define Duty as taking action based on both our assigned tasks and moral obligations. Alice waited for someone to assign her tasks in order for her to grow, when in fact it was her moral obligation to find ways to grow – even when nobody else seemed to be paying attention.

The lesson we can all learn from Alice’s story is that we can’t expect other people to care about our development if our behaviors demonstrate we don’t care ourselves.

Becoming a Leader of Character is an inside job. Too often we expect someone else – our supervisor or our training department – to help us grow. But, what we ought to do is look in the mirror and realize it is our Duty – our moral obligation – to take control of our own growth.

If our supervisor is not giving us his or her time, or if our training department has limited financial resources or limited classes, we ought to be growing anyway. We ought to seek out those opportunities ourselves by reading books, listening to podcasts, finding a mentor or even just asking questions.

Who is the more reliable employee or peer? The person that waits for other people to tell them how to do something, or the person who goes out and finds those answers on their own? Which person do you think the leadership and the teammates will trust in the future?

We prove we are reliable when we take the initiative for our own development and growth. While other people may hold the title of supervisor or trainer, nobody is more responsible for our growth than we are. Just because someone else is not fulfilling their Duty to train us does not excuse us from taking control of our own development. When we do, others will see our initiative and our commitment and respond by trusting us more.

Dig Deep Questions:

● In what area do you need to take responsibility for growing?

● What do you think of people who need to be told what to do?


Taking responsibility and exercising Duty is a lifelong journey for not only you, but your team. We want to partner with you as you make Duty part of your organizational culture. When it comes to remembering the definition of Duty, let us help to make it easy to keep it visible.

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