The Accountability of Leadership


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I’ve been thinking about this lately, because recently I heard a manager say, “you know, the list didn’t go out and the client was coming for me.  But I told them right away that I had given it to my assistant – and I guessed he just didn’t send it out like he was supposed to.”

Now – while that may be exactly what happened, why would you ever say that to a client….to really anyone for that matter.  You are the leader, you hold the ultimate responsibility for everything, and I do mean everything that happens on your watch.  Sure, maybe your assistant didn’t follow through, and maybe you will definitely have to have a conversation with him about that, and maybe even the conversation will be a tough one.  But why – WHY someone would think that it’s OK to throw their assistant, or any member of their team, under the bus…..and with a client – is beyond me?!

“… leaders give credit, and take the blame…”

First, it does nothing to correct the behavior, and second – it does nothing to make you look more competent or above it all.  In fact, it makes you look smaller, and like you don’t know how to lead, or manager for that matter.  Oh, and one more thing – it’s an awful look to your team.  If you think they aren’t watching what you do, and listening to what you say, you are absolutely wrong.

So, how do you think it feels working for someone who constantly sacrifices her team members so she doesn’t have to take responsibility.  How would you feel…..I know I would feel like I didn’t want to really go above and beyond for that person. Clearly they only care about how they appear in the situation, they don’t care at all about me, my wellbeing, or my development.  So, why bother.

Listen, I know it can be difficult, and it can get under your skin a bit – having to take on responsibility for things you maybe weren’t involved in.  Or having to apologize for things you had nothing to do with, or worse yet – having to apologize for things when you just KNOW you are in the right.

Well, get used to it.  It goes hand in hand with being in a leadership role.  You know why – because part of your job is to motivate and grow your people – and you aren’t doing that if you are busy looking for who to blame and throw under the bus.  Those two things just don’t go hand in hand.

And yes, it can be hard sometimes, and you can feel really put upon sometimes, and like it’s not fair.  But you know what I say to that – I say stop being so selfish.  Everything isn’t about you and your feelings.  As a leader, you have a certain level of authority and power – but it’s absolutely nothing if you don’t practice servant leadership.  You aren’t in your role to lord it over your underlings, and banish them from the kingdom when you feel like it.  You need to remember that you are standing on your team’s shoulders.  You need them, their time, their talent, and their commitment.  And they need your leadership, guidance, mentorship and grace.

And if you can’t remember that – at least remember that you have to answer to someone too, it may be your boss, or it may be your client – but you are accountable to someone.  And you are human – so one day you will make a mistake.  Would you like to be the subject of pointed fingers and blaming – I don’t think so.  Yep, the golden rule applies.

OK, now I know that was a bit of a rant, but I think it’s really important that we remember who helped us make it to where we are, and who is helping us continue to succeed.  Be kind to your team, grow them, correct them when needed, but always support them.

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