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In continuing with our focus on the foundations of leadership, I want to touch on a topic that was requested by a friend of mine. Before we reach the subject, I want to warn you that we are going to discuss two topics and only use one word. It is my belief that both topics are foundational to leadership, and it always helps when you can use one word.

I have spent a considerable amount time over the past few years discussing leadership all forms of people. I have spoken to tall ones, short ones, skinny ones……… well you get the picture.

In my discussions, I have found that everyone wants to be a leader. Everyone wants to know the steps that it takes to take them from a follower to leader, from someone without power to someone with power. After all, that is what our culture tells us about leadership.

However, few are prepared to accept the accountability that goes with the position of leadership. The problem is that it is impossible to be a good leader without the acceptance of accountability.

Being a leader means that you accept responsibility for the outcomes expected of you and the team—both good and bad. This means that there is no pointing of the finger, nor making excuses. There are always things you could have done to change the outcome. Leaders are influencers, people that influence the outcome of a situation. By that reasoning, if there is a bad outcome of a situation then the person who is accountable is the leader.

I read a great quote about responsibility that I have written down, “until you take responsibility; you are a victim. And being a victim is the exact opposite of being a leader.”

Another key part of accountability is when a person allows someone else to have input in the decisions that they are making. A lot of times leaders become so hard-headed that they refuse to listen to the wisdom of the team. This is where we get the idea of an accountability partner.

I have come up with a list of questions that I ask myself as a leader who values accountability.

This week’s experiment; seek to answer these questions without using the word “No”.

Do I obtain the perspectives of others?
Do I communicate openly and candidly?
Do I ask for and offer feedback?
Do I hear the hard things?
Do I learn from both my successes and failures?
Do I act on the feedback I receive?
Do I constantly ask, “What else can I do?”
Do I creatively deal with obstacles?
Do I take the necessary risks?
Do I do the things I say I’ll do?
Do I focus on the top priorities?
Do I stay above the line by not blaming others?
Do I work to create an environment of trust and honor?