Accountable leaders never tire of asking themselves a tough question: Who am I, really? They know the answer to that question is always going to be rooted, not in what they say about themselves, but in the actions that they choose to take. These leaders know their actions do one of two things: they either demonstrate full commitment to their chosen purpose in life … or they demonstrate commitment to something else. Recently, I was
The Accountability Blog
Tag: Accountable Leader
Here is perhaps the ultimate accountability challenge: Suppose you were called on to turn around a company in crisis. How would you do it? There never seems to be any shortage of firms experiencing challenges that connect to a deficit of accountability. The most recent, glaring example is probably Boeing, whose CEO just departed following a series of major problems related to internal safety concerns that were withheld from regulators and others. The plane in
We can only inspire accountability. We can never bring it into existence by demanding it. This is the Principle of Accountability. And the only way to master accountability is to change the way we think. Accountability is not a way of doing. It is a way of thinking. Plenty of leaders talk about “holding people accountable” for certain narrowly-defined outcomes: getting a report done on time, hitting a performance target, taking out the trash, whatever.
An extraordinary instance of accountable business leadership made the news over the past week. It came from an employee, not from someone highly placed in the organization, and it was in service of the powerful accountability commitment I call “I stand by you when all hell breaks loose.” The accountable leadership moment came when Bonnie Kimball, a cafeteria worker at Mascoma Valley Regional High School in New Hampshire, learned that one of the students in
Accountability means keeping your commitments to people. Pretty simple, right? Well, it should be, especially for leaders. Leaders who are accountable make a point of fulfilling their own commitments to people first. They make their own commitments the starting point, the priority, in any relationship. Why? Because they know that supporting their relationships with team members is the only effective means of inspiring accountability up and down the organization.
Committing to the success of others around you builds relationships and accountability. Your example of accountability will inspire accountability in others.
Accountability and responsibility are two very different things. Accountability is keeping your commitments to people. Responsibility is taking on a certain task. The difference is subtle and instructive, and it connects to the vitally important concept of commitment. There are tactical commitments, for which people take on responsibility, and which build productivity (that is what leaders want). And there are also relational commitments, which support relationships and build accountability (that is what leaders need).
One powerful lesson that accountable leaders can take from the last few extraordinary months is that personal commitments matter. That may seem like an obvious point. It is not. It requires constant reinforcement, especially within leadership circles. You would be surprised how many leaders I run into who imagine that their commitments do not need to be personal. They say things like “I am committed to quality” or “I am committed to making this company