Life is fickle. It doesn’t always make sense. Sometimes life is just that, life. It means living in the moment, being present where you are, in the moment. Right now, is all you have.

As a leader you have choices and decisions to make. Sometimes the choice has huge implications for your life, and organization. Other times it is about whether to add extra mayo to your Ham and Swiss on rye (an amazing sandwich combo).

No matter the decision we make good leaders go all in; that is, they take ownership. Good leaders choose absolute responsibility. You might think this is a no-brainer. If that were the case why are there so many leaders that don’t?

Because there are days it is hard to own your role. Too many people think getting ahead means avoiding difficulty or failure. It’s natural to want to avoid having the failed project, the failing department, to be viewed as a failure as though it is on your name badge when you enter the breakroom.

So, people ‘try’ fewer strategies, they innovate less, they are less creative and the result is they don’t stand out. That’s not leadership. The truth is failure is a great teacher IF we are willing to view failure as an action, not an identity.

If you want to be a stand out leader, rather than a follower that hopes to fly under the radar (while still getting a promotion), then take a shot, swing the bat, place the bet, make the move (Yes, be calculated, think through, plan, etc.). whether it works out or not – Own it! Own your role, own your project, own your team’s performance.

How? Three things:

Communicate Clearly – make sure lines of communication are open and clear. If you give your team a directive and it is not clear, the project might not go as well or the documents might go to the wrong address.

Prepare – by prioritizing your life and work. Prepare for life by being present with your spouse, partner, kids, family, friends. When you choose to be present where you are, believe it or not, that is prepping you for work. This is because you won’t live with regret or guilt over not spending more time. Prepare for work means doing the work, the mundane work. Prep for the meeting, the interview, the project review so that when you need to discuss something, you’re ready. Do the work of preparation.

Initiative – have the courage to lead up and down the organization. Have the courage to step up into something that is hard or challenging. Step out of comfort and embrace doing something that is hard. Also, be willing to let go of what you cannot control. If you’ve served your team well, let go of control and let them shine.

Ownership – Absolute Responsibility means having an awareness of your ‘world’ and leaning into it. Be present where you are at the moment. Are you owning your role or like so many others, hoping not to get noticed but promoted anyway?