As the media is flooded with the scandal of Prince Andrew’s involvement and association with Jeff Epstein, we witness another disappointing fall from grace as a leader’s poor choices result in devastating consequences. Not just consequences, but a colossal fallout of trust with a nation’s people.
Any leader working in a high pressure, high performance environment needs to be trusted. Yet, in order to be trusted, they must be held accountable.
What is accountability?
Largely a buzz-word in emotional health and leadership, accountability is the ability to set a task or vision and be responsible for executing it. It is not simply taking the brunt of blame for shortcomings, but it also requires the leader to deliver on commitments.
Accountability is not pointing out the flaws in an individual nor always keeping them hot on their toes. Rather, it is motivating someone toward their full capacity and capability. Sans manipulation, coercion nor invasion of privacy, accountability creates a space where success is achieved in a healthy manner through relationship.
Accountability is initiative in motion and the embodiment of the phrase, “Actions speak louder than words.” It keeps leaders productive, fruitful and proactive. It is a conscious, deliberate choice to take ownership for your actions.
The importance of keeping leaders accountable is a foundational principle. As a junior executive in a thriving tech start-up in London, I learned that accountability means delivering the task as expected, taking initiative and offering new ideas in line with the vision. In my role, I held leadership accountable by reminding them of the vision and offering a bird’s-eye view perspective.
Holding leadership accountable also includes keeping leaders invested in their own growth, as well as their team’s. It means taking questions, feedback and constructive criticism concerning their leadership and implementing strategies to motivate them toward progress. If they are not growing intentionally, then it is unlikely they will grow at all.
People who keep leaders accountable must be firm enough to challenge, yet humble enough to love through mistakes. They sometimes pick up pieces of disappointment, but, more often than not, they celebrate the little wins and remind leaders of the good to come. They paint the picture of success and implement strategies that keep leaders motivated toward it.
Why is this essential?
In an increasingly individualistic culture where people are told to live for themselves and to only answer their dreams and desires, keeping leaders accountable promotes awareness of something bigger than themselves. We’re not just hubristically living for ourselves, evading responsibility.
Instead, we must live deeply aware that our actions impact those around us. Being accountable to others does not evade us of individualism, but rather it shines a light on who we are in the context of those around us.
Images via Jason Barbagelott, Darling Issue No. 24