Where is the Quality of Accountability in Our Leaders?

leader accountability“He who is present at a wrongdoing and does not lift a hand to prevent it, is as guilty as the wrongdoers” Lakota.

No matter what media source you frequent for news, the lack of accountability demonstrated by world leaders, seems to be rampant. What is a true leader and what qualities should he or she possess to even make the grade? According to Forbes article Entrepreneurs 12/19/12, the 10 qualities necessary in order to make a great leader are Honesty, Ability to Delegate, Communication, Sense of Humor, Confidence, Commitment, Positive Attitude, Creativity, Intuition, Ability to Inspire. (Forbes 10 Qualities of a great leader),

One of the most important qualities not prevalently demonstrated today (as well as not mentioned in the Forbes article) is Accountability. One would think that accountability would be clearly associated with honesty, but that doesn’t appear to be the case these days. Maybe world societies need to back up and start all over and address semantics by re-defining words such as honesty and accountability; mere purpose of putting everyone on the same page so that we all operate by the same definition.

Let’s start with Honesty. Per Wikipedia (commonly available resource for internet users), “Honesty refers to a facet of moral character and connotes positive and virtuous attributes such as integrity, truthfulness and straightforwardness along with the absence of lying, cheating or theft. Honesty is revered in many cultures and religions. Honesty means being truthful, trustworthy, loyal, fair and sincere.  Honesty also means straight forward conduct.”

The definition of Accountability?  Per Wikipedia, “In ethics and governance, accountability is answerability, blameworthiness, liability and the expectation of account-giving. As an aspect of governance, it has been central to discussions related to problems in the public sector, nonprofit  and private (corporate) worlds. In leadership roles, accountability is the acknowledgment and assumption of responsibility for actions, products, decisions, and policies including the administration, governance, and implementation within the scope of the role or employment position and encompassing the obligation to report, explain and be answerable for resulting consequences.”

Wikipedia continued: “In governance, accountability has expanded beyond the basic definition of “being called to account for one’s actions”, It is frequently described as an account-giving relationship between individuals, e.g. “A is accountable to B when A is obliged to inform B about A’s (past or future) actions and decisions, to justify them, and to suffer punishment in the case of eventual misconduct”. Accountability cannot exist without proper accounting practices; in other words, an absence of accounting means an absence of accountability.”

The aforementioned definitions of both honesty and accountability are rather straight forward in my opinion, so why such a problem for our leaders? Is it the legal (gray area between white and black-yes and no) systems that have created a way of thinking as well as put a route in place, that allows for anyone to be able to re-justify their actions, no matter what, thus allowing them to wiggle out of any responsibility? Or, is it because we’ve allowed our leaders to have the power to do so without consequences.

As clearly stated by the Lakota tribe, “He who is present at a wrongdoing and does not lift a hand to prevent it, is as guilty as the wrongdoers.” There were no excuses acceptable, including but not limited to, contracts, legal opinions stating otherwise or semantics to be blamed. Honesty and  Accountability were values highly regarded and taken seriously by the Lakota leaders.

Time for all of us to get back to what’s important in our leaders, holding them accountable and requiring them to walk their talk. We must learn from great leaders of our pasts. No more excuses acceptable and yes, consequences attached to the positions, secondary to how they perform. If only we would get back to holding a person to their word, there just might be a chance to bring the pendulum back to center.



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