COACHING TIP TUESDAY: Accept Full Responsibility

190409 Pat Summitt sitting



190409 Deming

Deming spoke about the 94/6 rule —  94% of problems can be traced to the system and 6% to the person.

Leaders/Coaches own the 94%. Individuals within our teams own the 6%.


And yet …

  • Who do we measure?
  • Who do we hold accountable?
  • Who do we blame?
  • Who do we give feedback to? (And for that matter the wrong kind of feedback?)

And then who do we pat on the back for doing all of the above?

Some years ago, I was coaching our basketball team in a semifinal playoff game. We were up 5 with 90 seconds to go and I opted to stop pressing and have our team pack the paint with a three two zone.

Seventy seconds later we were down one with no timeouts and the ball in the hands of one of our younger players.

Long story short, we lost. And it was 100% my fault. I owned the system. I made a poor calculation as how to best position my team to win. I had full responsibility.

And yet, who felt the most terrible? My younger player who had the ball with all eyes focused on him when the final whistle blew. He took the loss very personal. He blamed himself. And that was wrong. I had positioned him poorly. This loss was on me.

Now think about your team (your organization). How often have you as a leader (or as a coach) created a system that was faulty and that achieved the results it was designed to achieve? And how often have you held an individual (other than yourself) accountable for that result?


When we Leaders/Coaches start with the assumption that it is the system that we are responsible for that is broken … most times we will be right … but more importantly … we will be in a far better position to truly address the brokenness of the system without further harming those we have positioned poorly.

190409 Pat SummittWhether Pat Summitt, Tennessee Volunteers Head Coach, was a Deming believer or not I do not know.

I do know she was brilliant, successful and impactful on and off the court … and she was spot on when she said …


Coaching Tip Responsibiilty

If you are sitting in the BIG CHAIR — ALWAYS look in the mirror FIRST and accept FULL Responsibility.

Doing so is both the RIGHT thing to do and the CORRECT thing to do.



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