Accountability is a rare (but necessary) aspect of leadership today. Roger Connors, co-founder and former CEO of Partners in Leadership, points out that there is a crisis of accountability in organizations today. Connors said, “When properly approached, accountability can really be the low-hanging fruit for optimizing organizational performance and accelerating organizational change efforts.”
So, what does healthy accountability look like in leadership?
Much of it involves being humble enough to recognize and acknowledge your flaws without allowing them to destroy your self-esteem. Here are seven tips for being an accountable leader.
1. Take Responsibility – Own your decisions, words and actions. As a role model, you can provide either a poor or excellent example of what it means to be responsible. Sometimes, this may even involve taking responsibility for issues you were only partly involved in. While doing so may put a dent in your pride, it will show others that you are not afraid to take ownership.
2. Communicate Thoroughly – Many problems can be avoided by simply communicating with others. Just because we understand something does not mean that everyone else does. To hold everyone accountable to your team’s goals – including yourself – go ahead and send out detailed mass emails. While this may seem redundant or overdone to some, it could keep others from missing an important deadline or falling behind. When in doubt, communicate.
3. Be Intentional – Being accountable also means having valid intentions behind everything you do. If you don’t hold to a purpose, laziness and negligence can easily creep into your life, team and office. Intentionality involves mentally preparing for events or meetings, considering other viewpoints and being thoughtful about your decisions. Before scheduling that conference or signing that contract, make sure you have a rational intention behind your choice.
4. Foster Honesty – Honesty is a key component of accountability. Be truthful and up-front about what matters. Be compassionate about how you present information. Cultivating an ethic of honesty will foster accountability for your entire organization.
5. Develop Humility – Humility helps you own your faults. By doing so, you demonstrate that you are confident enough to recognize and admit when you have messed up. This also keeps you accountable to others and to yourself. However, you have to recognize that humility is not the same as self-deprecation. You have to draw the line between self-bashing and true humility.
6. Be Trustworthy – Without trust, leadership fails. As you work to be accountable, establishing trust should be a foundational component of your leadership. With your level of influence, your decisions and actions influence others. Establish trust in your work relationships by being consistent and putting forth the same effort you expect from your employees.
7. Display Compassion – Compassion is crucial for accountability. Your team members may be encountering different challenges in their professional or personal lives. Take the time to meet with them and understand their needs on a personal level. Compassion requires you to actively listen to others and seek ways to serve them.
These seven guidelines are just a few ways you can develop accountability as a leader. Start by choosing one of these traits to work on this week.