Can You Step It Up? Seriously?

Accountability Be Accountable Books Thought leadership

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Key Point: Followers of The Character Triangle know that one of the three core values is Self Accountability. It is a belief, state of mind and set of behaviors that really differentiates people at work (and life).

Two top notch leadership gurus reinforce the Self Accountability concept: Marshall Goldsmith and Dr. John Izzo. Goldsmith was recently recognized as the No. 1 leadership thinker and the No. 7 business thinker in the world at the bi-annual Thinkers50 Ceremony sponsored by the Harvard Business Review. Dr. Izzo recently released his sixth book, Stepping Up: How Taking Responsibility Changes Everything. John’s book shows how stepping up and being self accountable is good for your career, the workplace, and one’s overall well being. The following is an excerpt from Marshall’s blog, interviewing Izzo, in the Huffington Post:

 MG: What is Stepping Up and why is it the right book for our time?

JI: Stepping Up is seeing a need and deciding you are the person who can, should and will do something about it. We live in a time when we face so many problems such as poverty and climate change can only be solved when each of us steps up in our sphere of influence to create change. What’s more victim thinking has become pervasive in our society with everybody pointing a finger at someone else as the source of the problem. What we need are people at work and in communities who step up and decide they are going to create change.

MG: “It’s not my job,” “it was someone else’s fault,” “she needs to change,” and “someone should do something about this or that,” are phrases that you hear often. What is the impact on a person’s career and life when those words become the norm?

JI: Research shows that people who focus on what they can change rather than the external forces that influence them are more successful, less stressed and happier than those who feel like victims. What’s more we can’t fix anything but ourselves, so the moment we focus on what someone else needs to do we lose our power. In the book I suggest that every time you find yourself saying “someone else should do something about… ” you should instead ask, “What can I do about this?” It’s as true in a relationship as it is in a company or a community.

MG: You say stepping up is good for your career but a lot of people believe that people who stick their necks out at work get their heads cut off. Yet you share some fascinating research that suggests the opposite is actually true.

JI: The myth at work is that speaking up and challenging things will get you in trouble. But in the book I show research that shows that the opposite is true. People who speak up and challenge the status quo by bringing constructive ideas for change are rated more highly by their managers and are more likely to get promoted. But there is a caveat. People who finger point and blame are rated poorly so the key is to be what I call a “constructive irritant.” Speak up with ideas rather than blame and always begin by saying “here is what I will do.” Those are the kind of people who get ahead.


Character move:

  1. Challenge yourself to “step up” at work. Are you really stepping up? Bring constructive ideas and act on them for change and improvement.
  2. Do not blame or point fingers (as seductive as it is). Just work off your personal foundation. Step up on what you can control and influence.
  3. Remember that good bosses want and appreciate constructive help. It is good for your career and personal development.
  4. Reread chapter one from The Character Triangle (now carried by Hudson Booksellers at major airports). Watch videos of some of the people Izzo and team feature in the book Stepping Up. Read anything by Marshall Goldsmith.

Stepping it up in The Triangle,

Lorne