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Nothing Should Trump Personal Accountability

Originally posted: February 25, 2010 on TrishMcFarlane.com

As the Olympics are nearing the close, there is no shortage of drama.  By now, you’ve surely heard about the major blunder that involved Dutch speed skater Sven Kramer.  He cost himself the gold.

There, I said it.

As the story goes, Sven was skating the 10,000 meter race and was poised to win in record time.  He would surely have nailed the gold.  But, a little more than halfway through the race, Sven did not switch to the outside lane as he should have.  Sounds cut-and-dry, right?

The real drama is that his coach was motioning for him to take the inside lane.

Sven listened.  Sven was disqualified.

Sven is upset that he was disqualified and is blaming his coach.  The whole country is upset.  According to the New York Times,’Gerard Den Elt, a correspondent for the Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad, said: “It’s a national tragedy. It’s all anybody’s talking about. A few days ago our prime minister stepped down, but it’s off the front pages because it’s all about Sven Kramer.”

WHAT?  You’ve got to be kidding me!

I’m not cold hearted,but at what point are people going to take personal responsibility for their performance.  Yes, his coach told him to do something wrong.  But, he is an experienced athlete in this sport and has won many races.  He even paused before taking the coaches signal to move to the incorrect lane.  That tells me that he realized it was not correct but then did it anyway.

Situations like this arise every day in the business world.  People listen to managers, supervisors, coaches or others who guide them down the wrong path.  That’s how companies like Enron went under.

People need to take personal accountability for their performance.  They need to own their successes and their failures.

If you were told by your manager to do something you knew was wrong, would you do it?  Would you fear losing your job if you spoke up?  What  do you think?

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