Response-ability and Responsibility – How do They Matter?
Have you found yourself admiring a friend, workmate, or senior officer at the office who exudes relative and unusual confidence and calmness, in response to challenging situations? This comes with response-ability. This is different from being responsible. The similarity between the two words may be a bit confusing.
Huffpost.com publication of 19th February 2017 defines “Response-ability as ‘grounded-ness, mindfulness, ability to consciously and deliberately choose our responses with intention and care”. I found the definition to be deliberate with the choice of words – grounded-ness, mindfulness, ability to deliberately make choices and decisions with relative ease. As leaders, this is critical. This does not come by accident or sheer desire to be so.
How does Response-ability differ from being responsible?
Our knowledge, capacity for analysis, and self-assurance based on facts, knowledge, and cognate experience minimizes error rates and guesswork, enhancing our response-ability. In life, it is driven by knowledge and understanding, experience and good advanced thinking habit, or a working mind.
There is generally a small distribution of such ‘cool-headed’ persons around us. Some are gifted by nature as you may find such brilliance in certain sports or fields by certain individuals. In other real-life’s situations, such persons have the edge of ability to respond almost without thinking things too deeply but perfect in response and appropriateness. However, we cannot wait for nature’s distribution alone in this matter.
The concept of Response-ability was brought about by John Cage, 1957, a modernist composer. He tried to shift emphasis from strict accountability to aesthetics of engagement.
Irresponsibility is not necessarily ‘recklessness or selfishness’, but the inability to respond to a given life situation is a firm, decisive and positive way. Being able to use all self-control, skill, and knowledge, especially in challenging situations. Thus Leadership is thus not ability, but a strong sense of responsibility combined with response-ability. This includes leadership at all levels – from the family, the basic of all institutions, to large corporate bodies, or governance in general.
Where do Response-ability and responsibility thus connect?
For clarity and function purpose, they are differentiated. In reality, they work hand-in-hand. One may have a sense of duty but lack the response-ability, he may thus look irresponsible. Response-ability thus drives home value of capacity. We have a critical need for mental capacity. This is fueled by knowledge quest, skill acquisition, and continuous development. Knowledge is a continuum. Capacity development is a never-ending circle. Staying updated enhances our response-ability.
Many people are stuck for the lack of self-development and indeed fail to realize the reasons why they are hurting.
Self-development plan need not be a crazy, radical plan, but a steady quest for knowledge for updates, and simple certifications. This stimulates thinking and the mind’s capacity.
Capacity for deductive reasoning, decisiveness, steadiness, candor, and transparency can be developed for great leadership, without resorting to short-cuts and circumvention of situations. Decisions will be well-informed and consistent over time, standing the test of wind and storm.
The perception of transparency and capacity leads to high ratings and leadership loyalty!