Where's Your Accountability?
Society today has made it tolerable to avoid taking responsibility for one's actions and even inaction. From government to business, and even spiritual leaders, seeing accountability at the top is becoming a rare find. Leaders are expected to cast vision, impart the vision to followers, and take responsibility for making sure the vision is understood and carried out. We seem to have leaders now who will happily take credit when things turn out well, but when it doesn't, they are looking for the nearest scapegoat to blame. Those at the top who fail to take full ownership as the one in charge will only hurt their credibility, their followers, and ultimately their organization.
How does this apply to us as individuals? Most of us, at one time or another, have been guilty of not taking personal responsibility for our actions or inaction. We manage to convince ourselves that someone or something else is the blame for what is the unintended outcome. We get angry and begin to lash out at others in response to the disappointment and embarrassment we feel internally. This behavior is usually the response, whether you are CEO, Pastor, an organizational leader, and sometimes even as a parent. Disappointment and embarrassment are traditionally the two culprits that trigger the practice of blaming others. Most people mistake disappointment for anger. These two emotions may cause similar behaviors, but they are different. Anger is a strong feeling of displeasure and usually antagonism. It is fair to feel anger toward someone who is antagonizing you because this is often intentional. Disappointment is when there are expectations that are unmet or having unrealized hope. Most times, people are unaware of the expectations we have placed on them because we fail to communicate them effectively, if at all. Earlier, I shared that a leader needs to communicate effectively to get to the desired outcome. How effective are we communicating with our loved ones, coworkers, membership, etc. what expectations we have for our varying works and interactions?
Passing the "buck" is not only a bad practice but also a damaging one. I have had a front seat to watching leaders place blame elsewhere, never taking ownership of failed outcomes. For me watching, it was never a matter of judgment, but more about credibility. People will not follow or authentically engage someone they cannot trust. People will forgive an authentic leader, but someone who is self-serving and oblivious to the damage of their misused power will minimize if not lose the trust of their followers. The engagement of the followers will become halfhearted at best. These actions are no different in our personal lives. If you are unwilling to own the part you play in any of your dealings, you will demonstrate "victim" tendencies and remain powerless to making necessary changes. What needs to happen to take ownership and stop passing blame?
It's the Principle!
Accountability worked on in private is usually executed effectively in public. You may or may not be a leader in an organization, but you are the CEO of you. You are the one person you have control over at all times, and you can start by being accountable to yourself. Life will always provide you the opportunity to play the victim but does playing the victim allow you to show up as your highest and best self? A great leader once said, "Most people tell their story for either pity or principle." (Dr. Cindy Trimm) People who tell their story for pity are looking for others to invite to their pity-party. They are not working on getting better, because better removes the drug of attention. People who tell their stories for principles have decided to do their self-work, and their stories will ultimately help others. We all have people in our lives that we feel safe talking to, to process; this is a part of "principle" sharing. It is usually these individuals who help us identify if we are practicing pity or principle behavior. These individuals can be in the form of a mentor, coach, therapist, or trusted friend, whatever form, make sure you have one.
My purpose is empowering the practical and possible in people. As a leader, I never want a person to leave my presence feeling heavier because of what I unloaded on them in the form of blame. I would hope that I am mature and stable enough to shoulder the responsibility of leadership so as to help those I have been entrusted to lead. What does that look like for me? When the desired outcome is achieved, it is because of the followers. When the desired outcome is not achieved, it is because of the leader. As the leader, it is my responsibility to take the lead in mining the process, with the help of others, to determine what needs to be enhanced or changed. Once determined, my engagement and effective communication with the masses will help to get "us" to the desired outcome. This will all happen not because I am right, but because I am accountable. This mindset is applicable to personal accountability as well. It starts by looking within. Mindful accountability is a game-changer, and able to cause a great shift in how you think about and execute your purpose. I challenge you this week to up your game by being more accountable.
Until next time... Be empowered!