On Leaders and Accountability
As I speak around the country or consult with clients, the issue of accountability comes up repeatedly as a foundational need. It’s pretty obvious that when people are not held accountable for performance (behaviors, decisions, words, actions), things go downhill. It’s also clear that things work best when responsibility is clear and agreed upon and there are logical consequences for good and bad performance. Without accountability, excellence is merely a pipe dream and even average performance isn’t a realistic expectation.
In the case of the United States government, our system of laws places the first responsibility on the citizens as the electorate. We vote for our leaders and we get what we ask for. What gets rewarded gets repeated and what gets punished usually diminishes or goes away. Evidently we haven’t done a good job of holding people accountable for good stewardship with our money. Ultimately someone or, most likely, all of us are going to suffer the consequences of non-accountability. And unfortunately those guilty of sloppy leadership and poor stewardship are often the very ones who slither their way out of the falling house of cards just in time to save their skins.
Even though there are 14 lessons in my book, Leading with Honor, three foundational attributes rise to the top—character, courage, and competency. To put it another way, the best leaders push through their selfishness and fear to skillfully do the right thing even when it’s painful. And part of doing the right thing is being accountable for one’s actions.
With those attributes in mind, let’s reflect on this whole idea of accountability, and like most evaluations it’s good to begin with ourselves; that’s taking on the hard part first, isn’t it? Here’s a checklist to help you get started –
- Find practical ways to hold yourself accountable either through people, processes, and/or principles.
- Evaluate the promises and commitments that you’ve made that you need to follow through on.
- Review the realistic consequences of your failures and mistakes—how it affects you and others.
- As a leader, consider in what ways that you’re slipping as a leader by not holding others accountable.
- Make it clear to others the specifics of your expectations and that they’re accountable to you or their immediate leader.
- Share the consequences that will come if they don’t uphold their responsibilities.
Throughout this year, I’ll be addressing the idea of accountability from theoretical down to the very practical. My team at FreedomStar Media and Leadership Freedom are going to hold me accountable. Who is holding you accountable to keep your commitments?