Shared responsibility through having autonomy in the system has led the England rugby team to the brink of a quarter-final place, winning three consecutive matches in the process.

The Rugby World Cup 2023 has descended on France, all eyes at home and abroad were fixated on the England team, their World Cup opener versus the Argentinian Pumas.

Saturday, 9th September, played at the State Velodrome, Marseille, 63,118 in attendance was the perfect backdrop to tighten the screw on an England team that had lost six of its previous nine matches. To put this in perspective, England had lost five of their last six.

Many, were baying for blood, the media eyeing its prey ready to inject its venomous bite into an English jugular.

Tom Curry was sent off after 3 minutes. This was the worst possible start, and the media’s first potential victim. Fingers began wagging in the England camp’s direction, accusations of ill-discipline, a hard argument to counteract. Four red cards and four yellows in their last six matches hardly define a team with the character and mental fortitude to overcome adversity.

That team could have pointed the finger of blame in one person’s direction, gone within themselves, and centralised the leadership duties around one man, the captain. Instead, we witnessed something extraordinary, a team wounded, bruised and battered, reestablishing its thorns. The rose bloomed in crimson red as the players recognised it was not about the name on the back of their shirts but the badge on the front, uniting a team that pulled together, adapted, and displayed shared responsibility.

Sharing responsibilty

How many times in the business world have you borne witness to someone, or the team within the team, blamed for the failings of a project? People are quick to shift responsibility outwards when mistakes occur yet front and centre when success lands on the organisation’s metaphorical doorstep! Blame is the mask of self-preservation, much like an egg timer, the sand soon runs out, and the egg hardens but over time cracks start to appear.

If those players had stood around blaming Tom Curry, eventually turning on each other as the scoreboard swayed in Argentina’s favour, they would have lost. Instead, the team adapted, flexed, and shared responsibility, covering ground outside their normal job description.

In business nobody is going to be ‘sent off’ yet we are faced with situations where employees look for direction and instruction from a person who may leave the organisation, be sick, or pulled in other directions by those at the top of the hierarchal pyramid.

Learned helplessness

Not believing you are able to exercise your free will, often results in ‘learned helplessness’, a dangerous approach within an increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous business landscape. Employees freeze without the centralised figurehead, rather than seizing the opportunity to ‘do things better than what had been done before’, a belief that trickles through the fabric of the organisation.

Autonomy in a system

At Aspire Leadership we focus on building autonomy in a system. Trainers are encouraged to bring their unique ‘lived experience’ and dance a different dance depending upon the delegates’ specific challenges brought to the room. Imagine, how rigid and boring our programmes would be if everything was scripted and micromanaged from the top down.

People may argue that all 27 points versus Argentina came from the boot of George Ford yet it was built on the shared commitment and motivation of the squad to find solutions as a collective on their way to a 27-10 victory.

Is creating shared responsibility and autonomy in the system the catalyst for initiating stronger job performance, satisfaction, and a long-lasting commitment to your organisation?

Perhaps this is the final chapter in creating a competitive advantage through a more engaged employee experience.

Spread the love