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The 4 Stages of Leverage When Building a Team: Stage #2 - The Responsibility Stage:

Updated: Nov 29, 2023

Transitioning from the Backwards Leverage Stage to the Responsibility Stage can be a challenging process, but it is essential for organizations that want to achieve positive change and sustainable growth. It requires a significant shift in mindset and behavior.

Stage #2 - 100% Responsibility:

The first step towards positive change is taking 100% responsibility for your position and future results. Creating a clear vision for the future is critical in breaking free from backwards leverage. This vision should be communicated clearly to all employees and should inspire them to work towards a common goal. According to John C. Maxwell, "A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way." Leaders should set an example by fully committing to the vision and holding themselves accountable for achieving it.

A Vision of Your Future Team:

The next step in this process is to develop a vision for your future team. Decide what your future team looks like and create a compelling vision that drives you forward. This vision should be based on a clear understanding of your organization's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It should also be aligned with your core values and purpose. If you have not established your purpose and core values, this is the place to start.

Organizational Charts:

It can be very beneficial to use organizational charts to help set a vision for your future team. Start by creating a current organizational chart with leaders and team members in their hierarchical structure. You can even rate each of your team members if you like. I recommend rating each of them from 1 to 10 by dependability, competence, and productivity as well as leadership for those in leadership roles. See the workbook for details. Next, create a future organizational chart based on a more ideal hierarchical structure. Create all the positions you anticipate regardless of currently having a person to fill it. Invent positions if needed and label them TBF (to be filled). Add the names of your current employees that you wish to retain that are adding value to your company. Keep the right people on the bus and get the wrong people off the bus. Don’t feel the need to put them in the same position if they are better suited for a higher or lower position. Put them where they belong in the right seat on the bus.

Once you have your new org chart in place, it becomes your measuring stick and vision that will direct your recruiting practices over the next several months. Every position that is not filled by a competent person is a vacancy to be filled. Without a clear visual picture of your current staff in contrast with your future staff, you will remain blind to your needs, limping along just trying to make some kind of progress. Your new insight will provide clarity for the mission set before you.

The Future You:

Once you have a clear vision of your company and your future team, it is time to commit to working on the future YOU. I’ll bet you thought I was going to tell you it’s time to start working on your team. You can’t fix your team until you begin fixing yourself, and second, begin working on the culture. This means taking a proactive approach to developing the skills and competencies needed to achieve your vision. It also means being willing to take risks, make mistakes, and learn from your failures. This is all for the purpose of becoming the person that can lead in such a way that you find success in building your team.

One of the most critical steps in the transition process is to take full responsibility for your future culture. You need to create an environment that fosters trust, respect, and accountability. This means leading by example and holding yourself and others accountable for their actions. Culture is not something that happens to you, but rather something that you create. It also means prioritizing culture over people, recognizing that your culture will ultimately determine the success or failure of your organization.

Open the Front Door:

One of my pet peeves as a leader has been when I would have a conversation with a store manager that would go something like this.

Me: How are you coming along with [task]?

Manager: “I didn’t get that done; I am short-handed.”

Me: “How many interviews have you done?”

Manager: “I haven’t even had time to look at the applications. I have been covering shifts”.

Sometimes the answer is right in front of you if you just pull your face out of the cheese and make yourself look at it. To attract more qualified applicants, you need to open the front door permanently to invite more people into your world. There is strength in numbers and a larger array of choice. This requires creating a positive employer brand that attracts top talent by being transparent about your organization's culture, values, and vision, and actively promoting your brand as a desirable place to work. People are drawn to organizations that offer competitive salaries and benefits, provide opportunity for growth and development. By doing so, you can attract a more diverse and talented pool of candidates, which can help you achieve your goals more quickly and efficiently. We will talk more about this in chapter 5 when we discuss the Law of Magnetism more closely.

Close the Back Door:

To close the back door to negative turnover, you will need to put a higher priority on your top performing employees' well-being and development. This means exploring opportunities for growth and advancement and providing a supportive and inclusive work environment. By doing so, you can reduce turnover and retain your best employees, which can help you achieve your vision and goals more effectively. If done effectively, these top performers ultimately could be running your company and be the doorway to your freedom.


Effective communication is also essential for organizations to break free from the Backwards Leverage Stage. This means fostering a culture of open communication where employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas, and leaders are willing to listen and act on feedback.

As noted by Patrick Lencioni, "Not finance. Not strategy. Not technology. It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare."

When you and your team have reached the Responsibility Stage you will recognize it by observing that your team is primarily made up of people who are able to work independently with minimal supervision for daily activities. They can generally solve most of their problems under their watch and feel empowered to do so.

Remember, it's not about you, but the results you achieve. By taking 100% responsibility for your position and the future results, you can transition from the Backwards Leverage Stage to the Responsibility Stage and achieve your vision.

Joel Smith

Business Coach, Author and Entrepreneur

This article is a section out of the book Team Design: Building Great Teams By Attracting the Right People. Download the Free PDF version.

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