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Lead Your Team Leadership

Leadership Lessons: Personal Responsibility Leads to Growth

Leadership Lessons: Personal Responsibility Leads to Growth

There's no one "right" way to lead a business. Today's leaders have a lot of wisdom to impart about managing the modern workforce, because each one approaches leadership in his or her own unique way. Every week, Business News Daily will share a leadership lesson from a successful business owner or executive.

  • The leader: Christina Russell, president of Camp Bow Wow
  • Time in current position: 2.5 years
  • Christina's philosophy: "Personal responsibility is fundamental for growth."

I was raised on personal responsibility. It wasn't some profound philosophical principle. It was a simple function of growing up without a lot of money. My mom was a single mom, supporting two kids as a secretary for the Orlando Transit Authority, making around $7,000 a year. My sister and I were so excited to see her when she'd walk in the door at 5:30, looking so polished in her suits and high heels. I'm sure she was exhausted, but she never complained. She remarried when I was 7 and had two more kids. My stepdad supported us on the small salary he earned with a phone company.

Despite our financial challenges, my mom never once let me use that as an excuse. She knew she couldn't pay for college, but she'd say, "Of course you'll go to college. Work hard, and you'll get a scholarship." And so I did. It was that sense of personal responsibility that set me up to be successful.

I started my career as a science editor at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and I had great mentors who continued to encourage me. My first boss was an amazing role model who proved that a woman could compete in what was very much a man's world. She encouraged me to pursue my master's degree, negotiate a better salary, and step into leadership for the first time. She taught me not to wait on the sidelines for success to find me. She taught me to go out and build it.

It was that lesson that helped me make the leap to start my own business. Again, I had great mentors by starting in franchising. I opened four franchise fitness centers, and ultimately ended up managing domestic operations for over 6,000 franchise locations, overseeing a team of over 50 employees and contractors. That led me to my current career as the president of Camp Bow Wow, a pet boarding and day camp franchise with nearly 140 locations in 37 states. Every career transition had its share of anxiety, but I knew that, ultimately, I was the only barrier to my own success. It was up to me to take the risk and forge the path ahead.

I see this principle as the key to growing successful companies. Working with as many franchise owners as I have over the years, I see a common theme among the most successful owners: They aren't afraid to take responsibility for both their successes and their failures. They never blame their staff, or the market, or their competition. They take responsibility, they learn, and they lead. The result is the power to constantly adapt and win.

As a leader, I live by this principle, and I strive to inspire that in my team and in our franchise owners. The result is record unit-level and system growth, and a strong sense of pride in our leadership position. Everyone takes responsibility, and everyone shares in the win.

Edited for length and clarity by Nicole Taylor.