Ok, The Buck Stops Where?

Part of the “The Human Side of Management; Leadership and Decision Making Series”


Its’ not about you, Mona, my wife, says softly at those times when she is forced to deal with me and my angst.

OK, I get it!  But does that hold true for business owners and operators as well?

 In our careers it often seems we are judged based on our accomplishments or lack thereof -quarterly reports on performance to goal;  annual reviews; promotions, job searches, board reviews, stakeholder positions – on and on and on….

 So, I postulate, it is all about me!

 Of course it’s about me and my accomplishments!  Everything I claim as happening because of me does happen because of me.  After all,  my job as a manager or administrator is to make good things happen.  And I use all the resources at my disposal  – people, physical assets – effectively and efficiently to accomplish stated goals.  True, without my access to key assets, without  skilled people on my team able to bring capabilities and knowledge I don’t have to move us toward our goal, I don’t succeed.  But, it remains my responsibility, my obligation, to bring these often disparate parts together to act in the common interest of the goal.


 In my office I gazed out my window looking out at the beauty of my surroundings while agonizing over just how to make my team including the dissident and inherently disruptive move us to our goal.  My group includes avid supporters, malcontents capable of malevolent behind the scenes innuendoes and rumors, followers of internally anointed individuals pushing their own agenda.  Conflict between themselves and me had become public.

 My supporters on the board urged me to “deal with it,” or face the wrath of my detractors.  And my detractors quietly worked to derail my leadership.  Even community members were touching base to share their concern.  Supporters recommended I “bust up the team and get rid of the malcontents.  Board detractors suggested “Maybe it was time for me to move on.”

For me, it was a classic “Hamlet” moment – what to do; what to do!  Allow me to pause here.  I think we as managers usually figure out quite quickly who are our primary supporters as well as our primary detractors. But that at best accounts for 40% of your stakeholders.  The rest?  It’s hard to know just what motivates them to move to one side or the other.  For me, the issue is decided by these primary groups; for,my experience leads me to believe, they are also the “best” players – it will be their skills sets, their special knowledge, their commitment to the goal that will determine the eventual outcome.

 So, how to respond to these “primary” stakeholders?  My first inclination?  Not much different than leaders from line supervisors to presidents, (and, of course politicians) who have harped since the beginning of time. “Why me?  What have I done to deserve this?  Doesn’t my staff know I regard them as essential?  Why doesn’t my board stand up and put an end to this? My inclination was to yell,” Hey, it’s not about me!  I inherited these problems,  I’m not the one who hired these people, you haven’t given me the resources necessary……and on adinfinitum.”


 I know better.  It is about me!  It’s about my willingness to find a way, create buy-in, get people on board, wisely use resources.  I am the one who agreed to hold this position of responsibility.  I’m paid the big bucks!  OK, I am paid.  Of course, our success sinks or swims with me.

Or does it?

 Help me out, owners, managers, administrators, please!  Bottom line: Is it about you (me) or not when it comes to accomplishing the businesses’ goals?  Is this the primary obligation for leadership?

 In the meantime.

 Stay true to your goal.  Stay honest with your people.  Accept what must be done.

Que La Paz Prevalezca en la Tierra! May Peace Prevail on Earth!


Ojochal OSA