Fred Goodwin; a lesson in Responsibility or lack of it for us all?

We all know the latest today I am sure. The stripping of the honour presented to banking ex-head, Fred Goodwin.
I have heard such statements as “catalogues of failures”, “as CEO, he was and is responsible”, “direct cost to taxpayers and business”. Questions about integrity, responsibility and due process. Personal activities, such as tantrums if the biscuits weren’t pink, his jet and huge pension and clear disregard for his Board members do not suggest a responsible approach to his business. He may be a scapegoat but he IS clearly responsibile to a large degree for making lots of money for himself, misery for many investors and a huge influence in the financial crisis.

I have attached below the section on responsibility from An A-Z of Ethiconomics.

Responsibility and Referral (self)
• the ability or authority to act or decide on one’s own, without supervision

We are completely responsible for everything that we do. I accept that you may view this as a little contentious but I believe it to be true. We cannot always control the thoughts that we have. We cannot always manage our emotions effectively and how we feel has a strong correlation to how we think but, and it is a big but, we can and do control how we act; how we behave. You have both the ability and the authority to decide how you act (behave). It is in this context that I mean “self referral”. An example of this tendency towards denial of self responsibility is the growth in the litigious society; someone else is always to blame; it is always someone else’s fault. We are increasingly handing over responsibility for our actions (and lack of them) to others, be that other individuals, the state, corporate enterprise or some abstract sense of “religious” instruction and worse, blaming them for the outcome. Personal responsibility, it would seem, is a responsibility too far. Not so, say I.

“Whenever we seek to avoid the responsibility for our own behavior, we do so by attempting to give that responsibility to some other individual or organization or entity. But this means we then give away our power to that entity.”
M. Scott Peck

We are the result of the sum of all the decisions and actions that we have taken to this point in our life. It is nobody else’s fault. Nobody else should be blamed. Stop absolving yourself from being responsible for your own condition and take control of it. Once you accept a mind set of personal responsibility then you are in a position to change your life completely; keep looking outside for reasons and excuses and you can stay where you are forever.

Many great men and women, leaders and great minds, have recognized this for generations. It is our generation that is drifting into a dangerous pattern of external blame and lack of self referral. It is a dangerous path we tread. I am not suggesting that I am in some way perfect here, merely that I have recognized that responsibility for myself is critical to my own personal development.

“In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.”
Eleanor Roosevelt

Once again, personal responsibility for our behaviour is solely and absolutely, ours.

“You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of.”
Jim Rohn

We set the standards for others to follow and by adopting a position of self responsibility and self referral we can develop our passion to live our lives to the full; to accomplish our dreams.

“Man must cease attributing his problems to his environment, and learn again to exercise his will – his personal responsibility in the realm of faith and morals.”
Albert Schweitzer

So what better time than now? It is a relatively simple task and requires nothing but a change of mind. The past is the past and we can learn from it but not be controlled by it. The future for us all is for our own creation so I simply urge that you be responsible for your own.

“We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.”
George Bernard Shaw

Will we learn from this?
Will we, as individuals blame bankers when we ouselves spend beyond our own means?
Will we let business leaders be hung out to dry?
Will we be personally responsible and take this integrity into our business?

It’s not my fault . . .

The debacle and disgrace of the News of the World newspaper and, just as importantly News International and Rupert Murdoch, continues to rumble on despite Murdoch’s apparent apology. I say “apparent” because I do not think that I am alone in getting the impression that he does not actually mean it. The words came out but the sentiment behind them appeared conspicuous by its absence.

You could, of course, excuse the mogul if his expression of the apology failed to hit the mark because of his usual habit of avoiding interview (although it would seem that this discretion was invariably not offered to his victims!) compounded by the excessive publicity and pressure that is being exerted by his fellow media jackals. No “there but by the grace of God go I” from them – it is in for the kill and let’s make it as painful and public as possible! I do not allow him such excuse. With great power comes great responsibility Rupert.

There are 2 points that I would like to elaborate upon with respect to this circus but firstly I feel that it is worth noting that WE (well never me!) bought his rag. We were happy to read about the dirt dished and the injunctions “supered” and I do not accept that we all assumed that these exclusives and revelations were all uncovered by ethical and acceptable practices. The public gets what the public wants and we clearly voted “Yes” to the sleaze and bile that the NotW regularly presented. Mea culpa.

However, back to the mogul.
Why don’t we believe him?
Well, basically because his reputation dictates otherwise. His reputation (personally and professionally) does not lend itself to remorse, compassion and respect so it is somewhat churlish to expect to both to receive this in return and to expect the public to believe that there has been a massive disconnect between him and his staff and that this truly apologetic individual in now acting with authenticity and integrity. He may we have experienced an epiphany but . . . .well, what do you think?

When asked ‘are you not responsible as head of News Corp?’ – Rupert Murdoch said emphatically NO.

When asked ‘who is responsible?’ – this is what Rupert Murdoch said …. “The people I trusted to run it and maybe the people they trusted.”

Mmmm. Trust? Well, every business leader influences the culture, and inevitably the operational guidelines, process and policies, of his organisation. If he does not, why is he there? If he is guilty of trusting the wrong people then that raises other serious deficiencies but I am of the opinion that the “trust” defence is simply not tenable. He may as well have blamed the company toilet cleaner because there was not enough soap to wash his hands (well he is attempting to wash them now!) which distracted him from the main business of the day! He sets the culture. He sets the standard. He sets the policies and protocols. He should recruit, instruct, train, develop, measure and review ALL policy and operations as a matter of course – every other leader has to so why should he not? You establish a culture of integrity and trust and you get it back. Create a culture of “whatever it takes, whoever gets in the way” and that is what you get.
I am not in any way excusing the unprofessional, unethical, disgraceful, self-promoting, dis-respectful, intrusive behaviour of the minions that deployed these tactics at all but he recruited, trained, motivated, measured and paid them – he IS responsible for their conduct (if not every single action).

There may be one final hiding place for Murdoch’s soul. It may lie in the argument that he was acting in accordance with the greater culture of our times with his puerile apology? By this I mean the ambulance-chasing, someone-to-blame, get me lawyer mentality that seems to be pervading our own society. Well, in this case someone IS to blame. There IS a price to be paid. You are the person Mr Murdoch and you are only just beginning to pay the price.

Corporate responsibility, compliance, health and safety etc are all reflections of our growing tendency to avoid personal responsibility. Tough! Look in the mirror; the person looking back will guide your way and you will not get to authentic integrity and leadership by kidding yourself. You cannot kid a kidder (or the man in the mirror – no pun intended!)