How to Manage Your Career: Part 2 — Taking Responsibility for Others

The Transition from Yourself to Others

In the first stage of your career, you begin by taking full responsibility for yourself. This means that you hold yourself to a higher standard than other hold you. Others will take note. When it comes time for promotion, your name will be in the mix. In our mountain-climbing analogy, you are at Stage 1. (the full diagram can be downloaded here)

Stage 2: Developing Relationships and Taking Responsibility for Others

What you begin to notice in your climbing group is that different people have different abilities and attitudes. Some are energetic and readily take on responsibility. Some are whiny and shirk responsibility. All of this behavior is noticed by the group and everyone in the group knows who to turn to in times of need. Those people are the leaders.

Manage Your Inner Circle

There’s a famous saying that states the following: You are the average of the 5 people you associate with the most. How much money you make. How healthy you are. Whether you will get divorced. Your life is heavily influenced by those you spend the most time with. Think about the top 5 people with whom you interact. Do they serve to lift you up or drag you down? If you are thinking about running a marathon, would you be better served by hanging out with your couch potato friend or your fitness trainer friend? If you are thinking about upgrading your performance, look to upgrade your inner circle.

Create Your Community

Where do you find belonging? Where do people know you? In your work, whom do you collaborate with? Unlike the inner circle, where you will likely bump into the person daily, this middle circle will have many people, some of which you won’t see regularly. The work here is to take an inventory of all the people that you want to maintain contact with (at least 30 to 50) and find a way to bring value to their lives. The shape and composition of this network has been shown to be the top variable to predict your career success. As Zig Ziglar puts it: you can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.

Take ‘Ownership’ of Others

As a result of your life and work, how many lives will you have impacted? How will you leave the world a better place for you having been alive? In this larger circle of influence, you will want to identify a group of people (or any other group of living beings) that you will take “ownership” for. This is not control, but responsibility. For me, my area of responsibility is in higher education. What this means to me is that I will do my best to act in the best interests of those whom I have a responsibility to. As you take responsibility for others, you will grow in order to fill your larger role and purpose. The scope of your leadership will be proportional to the scope of your responsibility and caring for others.

Summary of Career Stage 2: Caring

If you look at many people in leadership positions today, what is one of the greatest disappointments we have of them? It’s that they focus more on taking care of themselves than they do of taking care of others. The reason why we want and need leadership is for those who are strong to use their power to act in the interests of community, and not just to profit themselves.



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Antonius Tsai

Antonius Tsai


My work is in helping people connect to their greater selves and authentic purpose. (