Accountability is all about commitment, and commitment is all about relationships. Values connect us and strengthen us in deeper and deeper relationships, relationships that keep us moving forward when times are good — and also when times are not so good. Through relationships, we can accomplish a wondrous multitude of things. Never has this been more obvious than now, when our nation and the world is struggling with a global pandemic that has left so many feeling disoriented, alone, and unsupported.
There are ten core commitments that support accountability, and the one that seems worth discussing today, given where our world is now and what we are all struggling with, is the commitment I call “It’s All of Us.” This is the point of entry, the commitment that truly accountable leaders (and followers) are adopting and sharing at this critical moment.
When someone commits to “It’s all of us,” they have an attitude of “We succeed together. We fail together. We are all on this journey together.” When someone who is fully committed to “It’s all of us” connects with you, they have got your back. You are on the same team. They know that if you look good, everybody looks good. If you look bad, everybody looks bad. They are willing to connect with and support you, in the process of building something that is bigger than either of you are on your own.
Often, I talk about “It’s all of us” in the context of team leadership or company leadership, which are vitally important subjects. But equally important now is the commitment of “It’s all of us” on a global scale. Now, more than ever, it is obvious that we really are all in this together, and we really do need to support each other as human beings, every chance we get. There is no winning team or losing team when it comes to dealing with a crisis like the one we face. We are all in it together. And the best among us will make that commitment and find every possible opportunity to follow through on it — in ways large and small.
I believe that the small ways to follow through on this critical commitment “It’s All of Us” are just as important as the big ones, and perhaps even more important. Do not wait for the opportunity to do something newsworthy. Everyone has the ability to make a difference in someone else’s life. Everyone has the opportunity to have a positive impact on someone’s day. Everyone has the chance to send the all-important message “We are all in this together; I’ve got your back.”
Not long ago, a friend told me a story about “We are all in this together” during the age of isolation and social distancing. He was out early one morning walking his dog, who was (and is) a little skittish sometimes. Across the street, a woman wearing a facemask was walking her dog in the other direction. My friend’s dog started barking loudly, which is not an unusual occurrence with this dog. The woman across the street started talking animatedly. She was eager to connect.
She told my friend that, for weeks, she had had a similar problem with her dog. She then explained, at length, what she had done to help the dog calm down on their walks together. She made a number of recommendations about the resources my friend could use to help his dog learn to stop barking at other dogs.
“Within just a few seconds, I could tell she really needed to talk,” my friend said. “It seemed like it must have been a while since she’d had the chance to talk to someone. Even though my dog was still barking, I decided to stay there as long as I could.”
With the dog straining against the leash, my friend stood there shouting across a street about dogs to a total stranger, and being shouted at in turn (pleasantly!) for ten minutes. Eventually, the woman across the street wished him and his dog a good day and went her way. As she was leaving, my friend said, “Stay safe.” And meant it. The woman replied, “You too.”
That was an “It’s All of Us” moment. You do not have to be a team leader or a company leader to have one. And what you do does not have to be something extraordinary. All it has to do is let someone who needs to know that you are both on the same team.
Today, why not find an opportunity to share an “It’s All of Us” moment with someone who needs it? Help them smile. Help them connect. Help them feel part of something larger than themselves. Help them spread the word: we really are all in this together.