Those Who Take Credit For Success Should Take Responsibility For Failures Too

Leva (left) saved his colleague Lui from the wrath of a customer by posing as the head chef. Photo source: YouTube.

Kukhnya (Kitchen) is a Russian comedy serial, which depicts the life of a group of people working in a Moscow restaurant. In one of the episodes, a customer got furious over a badly prepared dish and started scolding Lui, the chef who had prepared it. All the restaurant staff were scared and nervous. At that time the head chef was heavily drunk and sleeping in his room. Suddenly, one of the chefs Leva went into the head chef’s office, put on his coat with the badge, and came to that table. As the customer was about to punch Lui, Leva grabbed his hand and spoke in a stern voice, “I am the head chef of this restaurant. Whatever complaint you have, please put it directly to me. I take responsibility for this badly prepared dish. But I would not allow anyone to harass or scold anyone of my staff.”  The customer was frightened and let Lui go; the latter felt deeply touched by the gesture of his colleague. Well, when the head chef woke up and came to know of the whole affair, he scolded Leva for his taking liberty of wearing his coat. However, while Leva was leaving his office, he called him back, and spoke in a soft voice, “You know what . . . whatever you did was correct. A head chef shouldn’t just look after the kitchen affairs. Being a leader or a chief means taking responsibility of failures also, and not just credit for success. You did the right thing. I am sorry.”

It was a nice scene with a very simple message. It made me think of various instances where the behaviour of individuals or organizations is usually quite opposite to what the head chef said.  The first example that comes to my mind is the attitude of parents towards their children. Don’t you find it amusing that when a boy comes first in a sports meet, or a girl stands first in the class, both the parents boast in their circles — ‘My son won the gold medal!’, ‘My daughter passed with distinction!’ But as soon as the girl had a stupid teenage affair, or the boy crashed his bicycle against a car, the applause turns into — ‘Your daughter has ruined my social prestige’, ‘Your son can’t even ride a bicycle!’ Whenever I hear such arguments in families, I always wonder whom do the children belong to!

Any political party in government takes credit of all the achievements and projects; sometimes the results are exaggerated, and sometimes even contrary to the actual picture. In addition, there are several projects that failed to take off, some plans that backfired, some schemes that showed misjudgement. It is the job of the opposition to criticize the government so that a balanced movement towards progress could be ensured. That is why, although there are differences in ideologies of different parties, there is an apparent unanimity in the overall philosophy of the nation — whichever party be in the government. However, if the government keeps dodging off the criticism by opposition by attributing it to malicious design, and altogether blatantly deny any wrongdoing, then definitely it is an unhealthy approach. I am yet to hear about any politician who had the integrity and grace to stand up to the opposition and admit that a mistake had been made, responsibility is taken, and assurance is given that it won’t be repeated . . . and to mean it. In reality, if any action at all is taken, it is just a demand for resignation and sometimes its implementation.

During board exams of 10th and 12th class, students have to take private tuitions for more than one subject.  One of our teachers made this remark — “Isn’t it funny that when a student passes with fantastic marks, or cracks the JEE or CPMT, all the credit goes to the private tutor. However, in case the student fails, the parents simply complain – ‘Oh! They don’t teach properly at school!'” But yes, even at tuition and school separately, not all students succeed. The teachers and tutors also take credit only for the successful ‘products’.

I do not argue whether I’m my father’s child or my mother’s, whether my son’s tutor is better or his school teacher, or which political party is most fit to run the country. I simply suggest that you take responsibility for all successes and failures.


23 thoughts on “Those Who Take Credit For Success Should Take Responsibility For Failures Too

  1. Pradita Kapahi

    Right said… If you want acclaim, you should be ready for the opposite as well. Alas, most people don’t have the spine to admit their mistakes or own up to what they did.

  2. Abhay

    A very good article Sir. I think taking responsibility of the acts , both good or bad, is the symptom of betterment and advancement. One example that came in to my mind is the economic system of the world. World economy is mainly lies in between two extremes, the Capitalist and the Socialist.
    With the hindsight, we can say that capitalist system, being more responsible, has produced better result and endurance in the changing dynamics of geopolitics. Where as Socialist, being less responsible has failed to attract imagination in real life.

  3. abhiray59

    True. Success has many fathers. Earlier, when ISRO or DRDO, one of them, was prone to failures, it’s Director would field questions when a rocket failed. He would let his juniors field questions when there was successful launch. Such acts Re not taught. These are in built character trait. I think story was narrated by A P J Abdul Kalam about his boss.

    1. Amit Misra Post author

      This was the usual practice among scientists of those days. I have read that Dr. Satish Dhawan used to stay in background and let his team share the credit.

  4. DeepikasRamblings

    Very well said Amit ji. Accepting failure requires courage, which is somehow missing in our bringing up. It always boils down to “its not my fault “. the current generation.

    1. Amit Misra Post author

      In fact, accepting responsibility increases confidence of an individual. Denial is usually a short-cut to escape punishment, mostly imagined rather than real.

    1. Amit Misra Post author

      In fact, the problem is not that big. Just acknowledging the wrong is what is required. That itself gives the individual a sense of responsibility and confidence. However, most of the time, people don’t have the courage to face it. Fear is one factor. Extra effort required to rectify the wrong is another.

  5. dfletcher

    True of us chefs that we can hide in the back of house and not deal with the wrath of an unhappy customer. The hardest thing I’ve ever done is say with a table of 5 who were not happy with a number of mishaps on there table and personally apologised. I ended up talking with them about my job for about 20 minutes and they very much appreciated taking the time to face them and apologise.

    1. Amit Misra Post author

      Customers usually see restaurant staff as just service providers, and often ignore that they are fellow human beings and can make mistakes. Personally I deeply appreciate the hard work done by kitchen staff in such difficult environment.

  6. hemu111

    It’s hard to accept failures bcoz we do not motivate if failure happens and that leads to negative state of mind. Moreover failure ask one to work one more time and even harder.


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