I CANNOT REMEMBER THE NAME of the American President – was it Eisenhower or Truman ? – whose desk bore the sign plate “THE BUCK STOPS HERE”. Although it is conventionally understood that the head of an enterprise or institution assumes responsibility for everything that happens under his or her domain, surely such a responsibility becomes impossible to shoulder if the constituent units of the enterprise are free from any responsibility. If one drills down further, the responsibility becomes individual for each one of us for whatever we do in our personal capacity.
ALL OF US ARE EXPECTED TO HAVE clearly defined roles but if these are not formalized, convention takes precedent. In the real world things are not as straightforward as we would like them to be. One’s responsibility may not necessarily end when another’s begins. One may have to walk the whole stretch sometimes. On the other hand we may hurt ourselves stupidly by assuming responsibility for something that is clearly not of our making.
ENDLESS, TIME WASTING BATTLES are fought at the workplace for conclusively determining “WHO HAS TO DO IT ?”. Likewise, responsibility sometimes gets thrust on us because of the faith that others repose on us or on the basis that one is just the right person to do a particular job in preference to everyone else – the MR OR MS RELIABLE so to speak. In this context one must also be wary of the possibility of being a dumping ground of responsibilities shirked by others.
THERE ARE SEVERAL OTHER FACETS of responsibility besides those cast by the plethora of DOs AND DON’Ts set out in the rules and regulations of an enterprise. All of these need not at all overwhelm us if we are sure of ourselves and confident of what we are doing and not afraid to stand up for the consequences of our own doing.
IT IS NOT UNUSUAL TO BE confronted by “difficult situations” while at work but the dilemmas that we face soon disappear when we consider our individual work spaces as our own personal domains where we take personal ownership of everything that happens within these domains however circumscribed they may be. One is surely not born to change the world, but, in a manner of speaking, within our personal domains no one can stop us from doing what needs to be done and in being responsible for our own individual actions. Problems surface only when we become desperate in our search for scapegoats for our own follies; when we try to palm off to others tasks which we should be doing ourselves or when we become overly enthusiastic in taking credit for others’ actions. It is only when we are mindful of the responsibilities towards ourselves that everything falls in place.