How many times have we heard of someone in a politician’s office doing something wrong and the politician, the leader, saying he or she had no knowledge of the wrongdoing? Maybe it was an office that was broken into in an attempt to steal information from an adversary, or maybe it was just a lane closing on a bridge to cause traffic in a community where the local mayor didn’t support the governor. The leader tries to get off by claiming ignorance. Slick move, but I don’t think it holds water.
A leader’s accountability to the people he/she serves doesn’t stop at their door. It starts there. The leader is responsible to establish the standards by which their campaign or office does business. They are responsible to communicate, “This is how we do things here.” There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind about whether a particular choice is acceptable or not. If the leader isn’t ethical, honest, transparent and authentic then how can you expect their staff to be? Conversely, if the leader is doing the right things, then they are responsible to let their staff know what the leader believes, what their mission is and what is Non-Negotiable™ in their office.
It simply isn’t acceptable for the culture of the office of a politician or any leader to tolerate anything less then what is right and just. We all know what that is. The problem is that we let the end justify the means. I want to follow someone who is better then me, inspires me, who stands up for what is right and gives me a personal target to shoot for. If I elect someone, I will hold him or her accountable for the actions of their entire team. If the actions are less than acceptable it is the leaders fault. They hired wrong, trained wrong, communicated what is done or not done in their office wrong. It always comes back to the leader. If the leader doesn’t like that then they shouldn’t step up to lead. Leaders have a responsibility to everyone that they lead.
We need to keep our commitments to the people around us and so do the leaders in our society, companies, and government. Don’t let anyone get away with, “It was someone on my team and I wasn’t aware of that.” Accountability starts with the leader and can never be dismissed or excused.