We Need to Be Personally Accountable

I was away on vacation and just realized that my last post dates back to March 10. I guess I have to catch up a bit. In order to do that, I read a few things in the last few days that may be of interest to others as well. For instance, I was reading a quote from author John Maxwell about leading children as parents. He suggests that parents focus on three areas: modeling, management, and memories.

Modeling would be the example we provide to the children. When we do things, children observe and tend to imitate. If we are not a good example for them, we may be hindering their future. I saw situations where parents were addicted to drugs and alcohol to the point of forgetting to feed their children and to send them to school. I saw the inner anger in those children’s eyes and behaviour. We can lecture our kids to not smoke, for example, but if we smoke, we are not walking the talk and the children will not take us seriously.

Management means that we perceive the particular abilities of our children and, on an individual basis, we teach them accordingly and foster their talents. I know they will be grateful one day. I was and am grateful to my parents for all their teachings and example to me throughout the years.

And finally memories or the ability to create traditions and events until the children are grown up and ready to begin their life, and even then to continue our relationship with them by creating new ones where they and their families become part of.

I also learned that true leaders spend a lot of time in the trenches before they become qualified to lead others. The best leader is also the best follower. You can recognize a true leader by her or his humble approach to things such as ‘there are no silly questions’ and ‘every opinion counts’. An arrogant leader is not a leader. Period. A true leader is also refined through trials and tribulations, challenges in different areas, including personal life. That process of refinement will be beneficial to the leader only if she or he does not give up but, through persistence, learns the value of the opposition and makes it a winning tool. Opposition manifests itself through ridicule, belittlement, resistance and rumour. We can counteract those tactics by respecting the opposition, reinforcing our weak points, reassuring our team members or the people we lead, refusing to quit, and renewing people’s strength continually.

In pondering on all this, I started to see a pattern: a leader is personally accountable for all he or she does and says. A friend of mine sent me and others some thoughts about personal accountability. In a nutshell, He wrote that the concept of accountability is wider than the concept of responsibility. In fact, the first one brings in itself the idea that individuals are proactively engaged in what they do to the point that they choose their response to a stimulus without being concerned of the end result being available for review or critique. Accountability is the ability to account for, which implies the ability to verify at all times, like in a bank statement (account). Responsibility is different in that individuals are only required to satisfy a minimum set of requirements and usually those requirements are produced reactively. For instance, I am accountable to my boss for the end result of an overall strategy or project, but I am not necessarily responsible for the delivery of each single step until the project is completed or the strategy attained. A leader will always need to be personally accountable if he or she wants to build credibility and trust. Responsibility will not be sufficient. In fact, at times, responsibility without accountability and team work may create a negative response or instigate ugly finger pointing.

Confucius said: “The superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions.” I really believe so. And finally, I concur and leave you with the following quote from Martha Washington: “I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances.”



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