Leadership Accountability Is A Two-Way Street
One of the most important concepts I understood early in my career is the willingness for leaders to accept accountability.
Too many times the concept of accountability is a very one-sided mindset. Leaders must hold their people accountable, that’s for sure, but it goes far beyond that. In order for any organization to have full trust, engagement, and synergy, each leader themselves must be open to being held to account for their actions and attitudes.
The book “The Oz Principle” brought accountability in organizations to the front of the list and was correct in doing so. But as with any leading thought, if not fully brought into practice, and not just vogue, these principles will cease to have an impact of any lasting effect.
In my article for Smart Brief on Leadership last year entitled “Leadership Accountability – A Positive, Simple Approach“, one of the themes I identified was for leaders to have a willingness to be held accountable in all things.
At the core of every leadership impropriety is the lack of willingness for a leader to be held accountable. Whether individuals like Bill Ackman’s failure on the Board of Directors at JC Penny or leadership teams such as Enron’s, leaders must show themselves available to be held to standards of behavior and conduct.
My first conscious thought of this concept was early in my career when I needed to redirect a shift supervisor whose performance was tanking. I noticed he was getting heavy hearted during my part of the conversation, in which I stopped and changed my tone. “Domingo, tell me honestly, am I being a jerk?” “No, Paul,” he replied. “You’ve always been straight with us, and if this is an issue then I need to fix it.” I followed with “I want you and your team to let me know if I’m ever unreasonable or if you don’t agree with me. We’re on the same team and need to work together.” What resulted was a tremendous turnaround in Domingo’s performance; not because I addressed his opportunities but because I was willing to be given feedback on my performance as their leader. This allowed him to have a voice in work matters and broke down any barriers to trust and intentions.
The reasons for willing leadership accountability are simple and clear:
- Everyone is accountable for their performance and behavior, leaders as well
- Trust is solidified
- Integrity is founded
- Teamwork prospers
- Open communication develops
- Meaningful connections in the workplace are established
The greatest leaders are not the ones with the best results, or the enduring legacy of culture. They are the most respected in their industry, among those they come in contact with. They are known to serve, develop others, be humble, and be teachable – all of these have their roots in being accountable to everyone around them. While they hold their people accountable, they allow themselves to be held to the same standard, and sometimes even a higher one.
Choose to be accountable in order to be your best for yourself, your people, and your organization.