When I started my journey in the leadership blogging space nearly 5 years ago, I focused a large amount of mental attention on the skills I thought I should have.

At one point, I remember driving past our local Wendy’s restaurant and wondering if I should apply for a management position, just so that I could acquire the skills of a leader. I made myself crazy thinking that  learning skills while gaining experience with a title attached would make me a leader.

It turns out, skills ARE important. As a leader, I am constantly looking to upgrade my skills. Communication skills and delegating skills are two I find particularly helpful, and ones I’d like to continually improve— yesterday, if possible.

Mark Miller’s new book, The Heart of Leadership, reveals that while skills are important, leadership character is even more critical. Without character, he writes, no one cares about your skills.

Miller outlines 5 areas of leadership character, each challenging in its own way: hunger for wisdom, expect the best, accept responsibility, respond with courage, and think others first.

Today, the one that is resonating with me most is this one: accept responsibility.

Accepting responsibility means owning both tasks and results. It means that when things go wrong, the only finger pointing is the one that points back at me. I must ultimately take responsibility when things go wrong.

When the website crashes and we don’t have a proper backup, I own that, and I do what’s needed to make it right.

When a credit card error means a client’s email subscriptions didn’t send for a week, I own that.

When both of those combine to mean that a week’s worth of blog posts are lost and must be recreated, I own that.

Being a leader means no excuses. Being a leader means accepting responsibility.

Tell me something! Which of these 5 challenges you most today? What skills are you seeking to develop as a leader? What leadership character traits do you most hope to develop?

I’d be thrilled if you chose to buy the book today! Mark donates all profits to charity. Also, if you’d like to share the book, you can find great graphics and tweets to share, here.