It’s becoming increasingly evident that we live in an unaccountable society. When political and business leaders including State Presidents avoid holding themselves accountable for their words and actions, there is little hope of getting accountability from anyone else.
Have you noticed how no-one holds themselves accountable for anything anymore? When questions get asked of people who should be accountable for some things, lips are sealed and fingers get quickly pointed – usually in the opposite direction.
It’s the same in our homes. When it comes to parents of ill-disciplined children, it’s either the school’s fault, or the police, or the government, but it’s never theirs. In the case of business leaders, it’s the staff, or the economy, or the marketing team, but it’s never the person who really is responsible for the poor performance.
The fact of the matter is that, if you are in a position of power, you can’t expect accountability from anyone else until you’re prepared to hold yourself accountable for your own actions and statements. This applies to our work and our family life. If you’re not prepared to be accountable at work, you’re not going to be able to hold your staff accountable. If you’re not prepared to be accountable for your actions in your home, you’re not going to be able to hold your children accountable for their actions. You can try, and you can force your will on your children, but that’s a very short term strategy and won’t last for too long.
Managers and parents have failed to understand this basic of the most basic principles of accountability. Accountability all starts with you. You can’t think it should apply to others but not you – that you’re somehow exempt from being held accountable. Sure you might think you can get away with things for a while but, sooner or later, things will catch up with you. Watch what happens in our own country’s political arena …
Managers who wriggle when it comes to being held accountable face increasing challenges holding their subordinates accountable. They secretly know that if they start expecting accountability from them when they haven’t held themselves accountable, they open themselves up to being challenged. And they’re really not prepared to face that kind of challenge.
What happens when you refuse to hold yourself accountable? You lose credibility, respect and trust. And the problem you face is that no-one tells this to your face so you continue to believe the lies you’ve been feeding yourself – that all is fine and you’re doing an excellent job of fooling everyone.
But no-one is fooled and they all know you’re a jerk and nobody respects or trusts you and you just don’t know it …
Then again, what happens when you DO hold yourself accountable? The exact opposite – people trust you, respect you and support you and you enjoy significant influence in their lives. Of course, you still need to demonstrate a high level of competence or you can hold yourself accountable until you’re blue in the face but if you’re just not cutting it, well, no-one’s going to respect you for a whole lot of different reasons.
Start holding yourself accountable and you will be able to hold anyone and everyone reporting to you accountable. It’s an old fashioned thing called example. When you set an example, you can insist on everyone following it!
Alan Hosking is the publisher of HR Future magazine, www.hrfuture.net, @HRFuturemag, and a professional speaker. He assists executives to prevent, reverse and delay ageing, and achieve self-mastery so that they can live and lead with greatness.