Responsibly Managing Responsibility

My day was progressing normally, meetings, a few fires, some good tea, and coworker conversation. During a trip to the kitchen my phone gave a buzz, looking down I saw it was my wife giving me a call. So I quickly answered the phone looking forward to some news about how good my wife's day is. I was met with some strong frustration.




My wife was working hard on parenting (It's hard work BTW!). My daughter (Who is 3 as of 2021) was not willing to clean up her room. My wife told me that our daughter was being stubborn and not willing to finish cleaning up her room. I asked to talk to my daughter.

At this point I had a few blossoming ideas 😊 I could 1. Lean into my stern voice and tell her to listen to her mother 2. I could tell her about some kind of consequence. 3. I could maybe guilt her? 4. Maybe I could teach my daughter something about life and also solve the gridlock my wife found herself in.


My daughter came on the phone and I decided to lean into door number 4. I asked her if she was listening to her mom. She said "No". I asked her why, she said, "I don't want to clean my room, I want my mom to do it". I am always surprised at the raw truth a toddler will tell ya! We could all do for some toddler honesty!


My next words were, "You don't have to clean your room". At this point, you are thinking I caved 100%.


I continued with, "Your room and your toys are your responsibility. Whatever you don't clean up after 20 minutes (Very doable) will then be taken. If you cannot care after what you have now, then you don't need it".

My daughter replied with "Yes Daddy" (Proud Dad Moment 😀) My wife informed me that a 20-minute timer was set and everything was cleaned up quickly. Not because of a stern voice. Not because of a looming consequence. It was because my daughter did not want to lose her "Toys" / "Responsibility".


So many times in business I have run into the same attitude.

  • "I want my manager to do the work for me" <Maybe not said directly 😅

  • "I want to make good money, but I don't want to put in the work"

  • "I have a lot of work, but I am not going to do it today because I don't feel like it"

When you HAVE things (Projects, People to manage, resources) these are your responsibility. I believe that if a person does not want to manage the project or resources, it becomes time for the conversation, "It's okay if you don't want to clean up your room, we are just going to take away whatever you don't clean".


Responsibility is earned. I think responsibility should be re-evaluated. If a person is not managing something well, have that conversation. If a person does not respond, time to strip away that responsibility.


I think you will be surprised about how many humans will respond with, "Yes, I understand" then will get their act together.


The only way to move the needle forward in a company is to have people managing their responsibilities. If they are not up for the task, it's truly okay, no need to shame them or bring down the hammer on them. Let's just take it away.

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