Being a manager is no small thing. To be a good one, you need to avoid the “victim manager” mindset and instead accept 100% accountability for everything that happens under your watch.
What does that mean, exactly?
The key to avoiding the victim manager mindset is understanding the difference between responsibility and accountability.
Responsibility is assigned to you by another party.
Accountability is taken on and owned by you, and does not involve any other party.
Responsibility is a result of a relationship.
Accountability is a personal, individual attribute.
~ vs ~
Today, I’ll take up responsibility; tomorrow, we’ll talk accountability.
Good managers understand that responsibilities that are relational and multi-directional.
Line staff are assigned responsibilities to fellow team members and colleagues, to customers or clients, to their managers and other supervisors.
Managers are assigned responsibilities to fellow team members and colleagues, to customers or clients, to their managers and other supervisors, plus direct reports.
Yes, relational responsibilities are multi-directional, regardless of the role you have or the position you hold.
“The project would have been done on time, but Cathy didn’t provide the data until two days before it was due.”
This manager is using a victim mindset, demonstrating that they are at the mercy of others’ actions. He understands only the one-sided responsibility (i.e., Cathy was responsible for providing data in a more timely fashion), but is not aware that the nature of responsibility is relational and goes both ways.
How would this feel instead: “The project would have been done on time, but Cathy didn’t provide the data until two days before it was due, and I didn’t follow up with her early and often enough in the project to ensure she had the support she needed to deliver.”
In the first example, the manager has a victim mindset. The manager would be successful if only Cathy did XYZ. In the second example, the manager understands that responsibility is relational, and that the manager, personally, played a role in how everything played out.
Understand not only the responsibilities your direct reports have to you, but also the ones you have to them, and you begin to earn trust and respect from the people you oversee.