Building an Accountable Life

The concept of accountability has been given a “black eye” that it does not deserve. This is primarily because the topic of accountability usually surfaces in negative situations when leaders have either made poor moral choices, or have been guilty of breaking the law. The culture we are living in is no friend of accountability. It rarely celebrates the principles of assuming personal responsibility for our lives, or taking ownership of our choices and decisions. Our country is experiencing severe moral erosion. This moral deterioration and impending collapse can be directly linked to the spirit of victimization that is permeating our entire society. A victim’s mentality is a mindset that leads one to identify themselves as a victim. This leads the victim to reject personal responsibility and accountability, and contributes to a pattern of angrily blaming others for their negative, or undesirable circumstances. The sin of all sins in our culture is the sin of entitlement which causes people to demand certain privileges without working for them.

It is a formidable challenge for leaders to provide leadership in a world that knows so little about the true nature of accountability. Our task as leaders is to cultivate a spirit of accountability in our unique spheres of influence. This means that as leaders we must be committed to building an accountable life before those that we seek to lead. The pursuit of accountability begins with the fundamental decisions to assume personal responsibility for our lives, while taking ownership of every one of our attitudes, words, and behaviors. Accountable leaders are willing to give an accounting for their activities, and are answerable for their choices. An accountable leader owns their mistakes, and in a spirit of accountability refuses to engage in finger-pointing, excuse-making or blame-shifting. Accountable leaders want their performance to be measured and judged on the basis of their stated objectives, while passionately delivering results not excuses.

What does it take for a leader to build an accountable life? Most accountability discussions focus on the external behaviors of a leader. This is the wrong place to begin. In contrast, I believe that accountability is primarily an internal heart issue. Any legitimate discussion of accountability must begin with an assessment of a leader’s heart and spirit. The cultivation of an accountable life originates with a humble and teachable spirit. Accountable leaders are eager to listen and to learn from others. Humility is foundational to an accountable leadership style because accountable leaders are open to the counsel of others, and are willing to receive reproof and correction when they are wrong. Non-accountable leaders arrogantly reject the wisdom and input of others because their egos prevent them from receiving the needed perspective of others.

In addition to a humble and teachable spirit, accountable leaders are secure enough in who they are to relate to their people with an authentic and transparent spirit. Most of us find fake, phony and inauthentic leaders to be repulsive, while we are drawn to leaders that we sense are genuine and authentic people. We are also compelled to follow leaders who take whatever risks are necessary to relate to us with openness, transparency and vulnerability. As a leader, you can’t afford to make the mistake of thinking that accountability discussions begin with you exploring how you can hold others accountable. Accountability begins with leaders holding themselves accountable with a willingness to be held accountable by others. The only way to overcome a spirit of victimization is with a spirit of accountability. The future of our country, businesses, communities, and homes rests upon accountable leaders who can raise up accountable people.