“With great power comes great responsibility” (The Peter Parker Principle from Spider-Man, Marvel Comics)

Responsibility is a huge word. It is inextricably part of life both in our private and professional roles, especially leadership roles.

Many of our programs comprise solving problems in a team situation. We typically separate larger groups into smaller teams, and each team works with a horse. Now, horses, like us, just want to feel safe. Part of feeling safe is being in a group whose members take responsibility for themselves and the group as a whole.

When it comes to taking responsibility for a task, it’s interesting to see team dynamics at play.

🤷Sometimes, no one wants to take responsibility

🤼 Sometimes, everyone wants to take responsibility

🙋 Sometimes, one person takes responsibility and dominates the group, ignoring the input of others.

None of these scenarios are constructive. Having a horse as part of the team highlights what is happening. If no one is taking responsibility, the horse will step into that role by maybe pawing the ground to get things moving. If everyone is taking responsibility, or one person is being inappropriately dominant, the horse may stop in his tracks until everyone is on the same page forming a coherent group. And you can’t budge a 600kg teammate!

It is interesting to examine why a person may not want to take responsibility. It could be a fear of failure, a sense of overwhelm or simply laziness. As a leader, it is important to address these issues. A lack of responsibility can lead to failure to complete a job, letting down the team and ultimately oneself.

This is why sharing responsibility is key for a well-functioning team. Of course, everyone has their own role, and some people will naturally be the leaders. However, being a leader does not mean excluding the ideas and input of others and insisting on doing things your way. As always, communication is king.

How do you view responsibility? What does responsibility mean to you? What are you responsible for in your role?