What Leadership Accountability Should Truly Mean
When leaders talk about ensuring accountability they are usually referring to concepts such as holding people accountable for results. That is not true leadership accountability.
Good leaders take this a step further by emphasizing that accountability is about more than just results. They hold both themselves and others accountable for the decisions and options producing the results, as well as for the actual outcomes. A good leader will also hold herself or himself accountable for utilizing the right level of delegation when appropriately empowering team members.
Great leaders also have a bigger organizational perspective, thus holding themselves and others accountable for how their decisions and actions impact other departments and business units as well as customers and business partners.
Great leaders also go even further by holding themselves and other leaders accountable for their leadership behaviors, actions and for making ethical decisions. I call this Leadership Accountability.
At the heart of Leadership Accountability is trust.
Trust is more than the leader being held accountable for doing what they say they will do. Trust also means the leader will make decisions based on what is best for the entire organization, its customers and the world we live in.
Such trust means that personal and departmental agendas are put aside for the greater good and sustainable health of the organization.
Great leaders build trust through transparency and honesty. They are willing to explain the reasons behind decisions. They are also wiling to acknowledge when they do not know the answer or solution to a problem.
Long gone are the days when leaders should never exhibit weakness or vulnerability in front of their team members. Doing so does not cause staff and direct reports to question or doubt your leadership skills. It causes them to see you as human, and as someone struggling with some of the same issues and concerns they are. It is archaic and utter nonsense to think otherwise.
When Leadership Accountability is absent, as we have seen at Volkswagen, Enron, HSBC, the U.S. Veterans Administration, and other organizations, devastating disasters and ethical crises often arise. In some instances, neither the brand nor the organization recovers from Leadership Accountability lapses.