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Conscious Leadership Commitment One – Taking Radical Responsibility

At StartHuman we’ve worked with more leaders and organizations entangled in drama than those without.  

Drama is characterized by fear, blame, and wanting to be right.

In our experience, drama is so prevalent in organizations that we developed a training called Ditch the Drama (link) to help leaders develop self leadership, accountability and communication skills.

When leaders are caught up in drama, they’re leading from below the line.  (Check out my last blog for background on conscious leadership and what it means to lead below the line)  

You’re likely familiar with the blame game – the process tends to unfold like this:

  1. Something doesn’t go the way you think it should
  2. You become stuck in fear
  3. You blame others, yourself, or the system
  4. You take on the role of victim, villain, or hero and pull others into the triangle

The drama triangle

  • Victims believe that something is being done to them by something or someone out of their control.   
  • Villains find fault and place blame.  
  • Heroes hate conflict, pain, and tension and seek to temporarily relieve their own and others discomfort without really dealing with the issue.

As a leader I have spent more time than I’d like to admit in the drama triangle. I know from direct experience how drama can negatively impact teams.

I’ve observed team members pointing fingers at each other and making emotional attacks during meetings.  I’ve witnessed managers “motivating” employees through fear, guilt, and shame. And I’ve seen blame, guilt and fear kill creativity, joy and innovation in the boardroom.

My default move during the blame game is to step into the savior role.  Through working with a coach, I realized that this behavior does not actually resolve the problem. Burnout is a direct result of overfunctioning. By taking responsibility for things that aren’t mine to own, I’ve supported others in taking less than their share of responsibility.  This has resulted in increased stress levels and an unhealthy pattern for me as well as contributed to dysfunctional team dynamics.

Commitment One – Taking Radical Responsibility (from the 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership)

(Leading from above the line)

I commit to taking full responsibility for the circumstances of my life and for my physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being.  I commit to supporting others to take full responsibility for their lives.


(Leading from below the line)

I commit to blaming others and myself for what is wrong in the world. I commit to being a victim, villain, or hero and taking more or less than 100% responsibility.

I invite you to join me in practicing leading from above the line by taking radical responsibility.

The next time you find yourself asking “Who is to blame?” shift to an open learning mindset and ask questions like:

  • What am I responsible for?
  • What do I actually own?
  • What can we all learn from this?
  • How can we grow?  

Leading by example invites others to follow your lead.

Make a conscious commitment with your team to not only end blame and criticism but to take 100% responsibility for their choices, behaviors and impact.

As partners Amber and I have an agreement at StartHuman to take radical responsibility- it’s a process.  We are on this journey with you.

We are building a community based on the principles of conscious leadership and I’d love to hear what’s working and what’s not working. Consider joining a Conscious Coffee Chat or send me a message.

Danielle Rees
Danielle Rees
Danielle is passionate about inspiring women leaders and entrepreneurs. She co-founded Coalition Snow, the only ski and snowboard company by women, for women. She honed her experience in organizational development and leadership development at Girls on the Run, Planned Parenthood, and Adventure Risk Challenge.