It doesn’t take much investigation for us to realize that our national economy, and many of our businesses, are in trouble. A national debt in excess of $16 Trillion, the approaching fiscal cliff, and a high rate of unemployment are but a few of the key indicators that have everyone concerned.
I am concerned about what I believe to be two deeper issues, and I believe that these issues led, in large part, to where we are today. These two issues are a lack of responsibility and accountability of both our government and business leaders. When things go south, we are too quick to point the finger of blame at others and to refuse to accept the responsibility and accountability for what has happened. As long as we have that kind of attitude, none of our critical problems will be fixed. In addition, we will not be able to improve and move forward because we do not believe, or are unwilling to accept, that we have done anything wrong.
One of the keys to being a successful leader of any kind is the willingness to constantly assess the impact of our actions and decisions, and to be relentlessly honest with ourselves. Brutally honest assessment, combined with a commitment to be responsible and accountable for the impact of our decisions, is what makes great leaders.
When I am working with business leaders, I always recommend a regular process of evaluation. The key facets of this process are:
- Set aside time, on a regular basis (weekly or monthly), to review what is going on in your life and organization.
- Be honest in your assessment of yourself and document the things you have done well, those that could have been done better, and those that were a disaster.
- Turn down a glass in celebration of those decisions that were right on target. Even a simple celebration of successes is important.
- Do an autopsy on those decisions that were not on target, or that were a disaster, to understand what happened, where things went wrong, and what you could have done to avoid the mistakes. This is not a time to beat yourself up, but an opportunity to ask yourself, “What can I learn from these mistakes that will help me make better decisions in the future?”
- Meet with key people in your life or organization and take responsibility for what happened. Ask for their counsel and input, and be willing to be accountable for taking action on any valuable ideas and suggestions they give you.
- As you move forward and implement their ideas, give them positive feedback and credit for the way that they have helped you.
Being a real leader is hard work. It involves honesty, transparency, and a willingness to be vulnerable and open yourself up to others. As you do that and pursue responsibility and accountability in all that you do, you will see positive changes in your life and business that you never thought possible.