Characteristics of Effective Leaders: Authentic Accountability


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People in leadership positions rely on many things to function effectively. One of the things leaders must have is credibility; they must be believable. So when I offer characteristics of effective leaders, I’m not talking about the traits that they would like for people to think they possess. I’m talking about the characteristics they exhibit, the ones that they express, not so much with their words as with their behavior. This tip is about one of those characteristics, Authentic Accountability.


FIVE BENEFITS of more accountability and less victimhood:

  1. More timely & effective responses to life’s inevitable setbacks
  2. More cooperation between individuals & departments
  3. Less of your time and effort devoted to “babysitting” and “refereeing”
  4. Greater commitment to continuous process improvement
  5. Better morale & lower turnover

As a person in a leadership position you must also understand that accountability won’t “just happen”. Accountability won’t “break out all over” as a result of the things you say. People may listen to what you say, but they always watch what you do. If you want more accountability and less victimhood, you must be willing to show people what accountability looks like. 

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FIVE SUGGESTIONS for acknowledging the mental choices you make about the troubling people, situations & circumstances you encounter (we’ll call them setbacks):

1. Pay attention to:

  • The mental & behavioral choices you and others make after encountering setbacks
  • People whose behavior is contrary to what you expect
  • Situations that don’t turn out the way they’d hoped
  • Unexpected changes that create challenges or problems for them

2. Catch yourself making victim choices about those setbacks

  • Blame, wallow, quit
  • Wait, wish, hope

3. Replace the victim choices with accountable choices

  • Get over it
  • Get on with it

4. Get over it

  • Acknowledge the setback
  • Do some appropriate, rational “grieving”

5. Get on with it

  • Decide what you can do
  • Then do it

Use the opportunities you encounter (setbacks) to model accountability as a compelling alternative to victimhood. By doing so you’ll also be instilling accountability as a cultural characteristic.