Taken from Ownership: The Antidote to Your Excuses in the Counterinsurgency Series.

Objectively, a leader is accountable for their team, which means accountability compounds at every level of subordinate.

eg. The combat leader is accountable to his superior for his soldiers’ actions.

Yes, of course the soldiers are held accountable for their actions, but the effect compounds through the chain of command. The failure of the soldier is a reflection of their leader’s failure to communicate relevant information, which I refer to as the leader’s values.

The anti-virus for excuse-making is to take ownership at your proximity to responsibility. It does not matter whether you are directly in charge of the operation. It doesn’t matter if you are the soldier who fired the shot, the captain over him, the radioman, the logistical officer, or the Commander.

Where ever you are in the scenario, you should take ownership, which means taking blame. This does several things:

  1. As soon as you relieve others of the blame, it actually calls their attention to what they did wrong. Do not be surprised when someone else steps forward to shoulder part of the blame.
  2. Relieving your superior of the blame will cause them to be grateful for you looking out for them, and you will have made a friend in them.
  3. Relieving your subordinate of the blame will cause them to be more loyal to you, realizing that you value them and will not forsake them.
  4. It effectively identifies you as the person with the highest integrity. It takes a Man of extraordinary character to take responsibility.
  5. If you accept that you are responsible for your own weaknesses, you will be happier as you discover that you can improve.