The Buck Stops Here!

Harry Truman was the President of the United States from 1945 – 1953.  It is said he had a sign on his desk that said, “The buck stops here”.

Interesting sign because it really doesn’t mean anything in plain English, but, in slang it means the final responsibility for everything ends up here.  If one of the workers mess up, it is my fault.  If it doesn’t get done, it is my fault.  For President Truman it meant that he had to make the decisions and accept the ultimate responsibility for those decisions.

Some leaders, even some current ones, have the opposite phrase which is called, “Buck Passing” or “Passing the Buck”.  When a leader ‘passes the buck’ he blames someone else for his failure.  Maybe he forgot a meeting, but he says his secretary did not tell him about the meeting.  Or, he doesn’t finish a report on time but blames his computer or the printer or whatever.  He always has an excuse for what he doesn’t do, often blaming someone else.

A leader has to imagine that the sign is always on his desk.  A leader has to keep his word.  Encourage his people.  Get the job done!

So, if the ‘buck stops at your desk’, what should you be doing?

1.  Think before you promise or brag about being able to do something.  Look at it carefully, study it, measure what it is going to take before you speak.

2.  Build a team that works together, not in competition.  Let them be involved in setting the goals.

3.  If you say you will do something, then do it.  Don’t back off.  A promise is a commitment.  Work hard!

4.  If something happens and you can’t get it done, don’t make excuses and don’t blame others, even if it is their fault. Just regroup and take another shot at it or adjust the goal.

Being a leader involves accepting and owning the responsibility!




Dr. Ron Cline helps build the body of Christ around the world. His background as a pastor, educator, counselor, missionary and author gives him credibility and rapport with the many groups and individuals he and his wife, Barbara, minister to in various countries each year. After 7 years of pastoral ministry in Southern California, and ten years as the Dean at Azusa Pacific University, the Clines’ international service began in 1976 as a short-term opportunity when he agreed to pastor the English Fellowship Church in Quito, Ecuador for two years. Those two years stretched into six years. Following that he served as the president of HCJB World Radio, also in Ecuador, for 20 years. HCJB Global, now Reach Beyond, has media, health care, community and/or leadership development ministries in Latin America, Europe, Russia, North Africa/Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia Pacific. Ron and Barb currently serve as Global Ambassadors with Reach Beyond and live in Southern California after living 30 years abroad. They travel from Southern California throughout the world. For the last ten years they have been encouraging, coaching and working with leaders in Indonesia, Cambodia, China, Singapore, Malaysia, Nepal, Mongolia, India, Philippines, Thailand, Hong Kong, Solomon Islands, Western Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Fiji, America Samoa, Australia, New Zealand, Central Asia, USA, Canada, Mexico, Cuba, Haiti, Ecuador, Russia, Malawi, Ivory Coast and South Africa.

Posted in Leadership Coaching, Leadership Community, Personal Leadership, Uncategorized Tagged with: , , , , , , ,


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