Accountability is an inside job. The first thing to understand is that being accountable comes from within us. No one can make us accountable. Either we choose to be accountable for our actions and decision or we choose not to be.
It seems every day we turn on the news and see examples where accountability is lacking in our top leaders and in turn, we see these same leaders who seem to throw others under the proverbial “bus” when they lack the ability to be accountable for their own decisions and actions. When one isn’t accountable, their first response seems to be to blame others, push off their actions on others and let them take the fall for their choices.
So what does an accountable leader look like? What are the attributes of one who take accountable for their actions? Let’s take a look…
Leaders who are accountable propose ways to recover when a plan goes off track. The leader doesn’t wait for someone tell them what to do – they find the way to make it work. A leader will come up with plan B when plan A fails.
Leaders who are accountable never point the finger at others when a commitment is missed. If an important commitment is missed, the leader will take the accountability immediately and the initiative to make good on the commitment.
Leaders who are accountable never make excuses. A leader accepts the challenge, the task and works to make it happen. Leaders like this know that they should embrace solutions not excuses.
Leaders who are accountable are their own taskmasters. When a leader is accountable, the last thing they want to do is let others down. They will do whatever it takes to keep their word.
Leaders who are accountable do not seek glory or celebrations. The ego doesn’t need to be stroke with these leaders. A thank you would be great – but if it doesn’t happen, they are good with the knowledge that they are committed to their work and understand that they are doing the job right aligned with their personal values.
Leaders who are accountable do not over promise and under deliver. A leader with accountability will not lay the groundwork for failure and excuses in the same moment they are making the promise.
Leaders who are accountable will make a plan and work the plan. When they are asked to commit to something or to give a date when they can complete a project, they will give a realistic timeline before they commit to the project or task.
Leaders who are accountable will note the risks and notify if there are issues in the project. A leader with accountability will not hide facts or lie to keep a project on task. They will be honest about problems and communicate those issues. They understand that if they are honest about failures in a project or task, it is quicker to find a solution than to cover up a lie.
Accountability is the leadership trait that transcends. Our accountability is what others will remember about us and what tells others that we are trustworthy and worth their trust to allow us to be a leader.