Is there a side effect of constantly being in charge?

Every strength can itself be a weakness when overused.  Every approach has side effects.  Every mindset can have a positive side and a dark side.  Lately, I have been wondering, is there a side effect of being in charge over a lifetime?

By being in charge I mean managing teams, taking on regular leadership posts, being the “one-throat-to-choke” business metaphor.  It celebrates leaders for being proactive, for taking charge, for making sure we have our team’s backs, for taking accountability. These are fantastic and must have attributes for leaders that bring people together to create more.

We learned that when things go south, strong leaders will take responsibility for the actions of the team. Like a good captain, they say “it’s on me” and provide the emotional safety for the team to thrive.

What happens when we translate that behavior from the work life to the personal life? What happens when we start believing that what happens is our full responsibility? when do we see the actions of others as things we take accountability for?  Is that a side effect of being in charge for so long?

Carrying the world on our sholders
15 Dec 1998 — Powerful woman — Image by © John Lund/CORBIS

I know it happens.  I experience it myself.  Sometimes the boundary of your actions, other people’s actions, and the outcomes become blurred on who takes accountability for the results.

When one person takes on most of the burden, it creates guilt and an over-inflated sense of their role in the events.  It also creates a strong belief that they could single-handedly create the environment for success to occur since they had such a large role in the shortcomings.

The tendency to overtake responsibility comes from somewhere.

I am wondering if the habitual nature of being the leader of a group and by default taking responsibility for their actions, can create the habitual behavior to overdo it in the intermingled business/personal life?

When the over-sense of responsibility happens, it can have negative effects on health (physical, emotional, and mental).  It also diminishes the responsibility and accountability others have in the process.

Maybe many of the roles we play in our lives should come with a warning label for side effects. They may be difficult to see but you can definitely feel them.

We can benefit from loving people around us willing to point out the symptoms of the side effects and care for our emotional health. I am grateful to have a few of those champions around me. 🙏

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