A Spring Training Lesson on Accountable Leadership

The other day, I was reading an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about one of the St. Louis Cardinals’ hottest prospects for 2019, a young Canadian outfielder by the name of Tyler O’Neill who made his debut last year. A quote from this young man near the end of the article really jumped out at me, because it pointed directly toward some foundation concepts that support accountable leadership.

O’Neill said: “I’m always get­ting closer to finding out my potential. That’s the whole thing, right? Waking up in the morn­ing — I want to get bet­ter. Getting in the cage every day – to get better. I want to be better as a teammate. I want to be better as a ballplayer. In every regard.”

That young ballplayer may not have realized it, but in addition to giving sports fans a glimpse into the thinking of one of the most interesting players of the Cardinals’ spring training period, he was also sharing an important lesson on accountable leadership. Notice that O’Neill wasn’t comparing himself to anyone else. Or making excuses. Or talking about anything that was outside of his own control. He was showing what his true focus was: personal improvement. Making the most of his own potential.

In that quote, Tyler O’Neill is focused on one thing and one thing alone: “How do I get better?”

That to me is very powerful because it carries much more than a lesson for aspiring baseball players. It carries a lesson for everyone who aims to succeed in business — and in life.

Making a personal commitment to one’s own personal improvement is a critical leadership trait — one that every accountable leader I’ve ever encountered makes a personal priority, day in and day out. They’re always about “How do I get better?” And they make it clear to everyone they work with that their goal is to get the most out of their own potential. The accountable leader knows it’s not about them. They want to get better….so that they can help the people they lead in finding their own potential! If they aren’t committed to making the most of their own potential, how can they possibly expect the people who report to them to commit to making the most of their potential!The most accountable leaders have Tyler O’Neill’s mindset: “Finding out my own potential — because that’s the whole thing.” Waking up in the morning, they want to get better. Showing up for work, they want to get better at what they do … and one of the most important things these leaders do, on a daily basis, is to inspire others, notably those who report to them to develop their own potential to the fullest! They’re not just focused on their own growth — they’re committed to helping develop the other people in their circle. But they always check the mirror first, to ensure that they’re following through on the commitment to identify, and make the most of, their own potential! They want to hear how they can get better from the people around them.

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