Have you ever done something, without thinking about what you might actually be doing, and think nothing of it? In your mind it was nothing, but what you actually did might not have been the best choice. Who brought your actions to your attention? Did anyone? And if your actions were brought to your attention, what did you do? As a leader, and someone who should be living with integrity, accountability is one of the most critical components to ensure we are living right. It can get uncomfortable, and we might want to make excuses for our words and actions, but in the end, being held accountable should humble us and remind us that we make mistakes and have work to do.
I had this exact thing happen to me not too long ago. I did something that I didn’t think anything of, but in reality it could have created a big issue. I received a text message that read, “Call me when you get a chance.” When I called, I was told that I did something that was not okay, and it needed to be corrected. I was taken back a little, not because I was being held accountable to my actions, but that I didn’t even think about what my actions caused. I am grateful that the person that asked me to call told me what had happened and brought to light my error. I was quick to correct my error, and I now have better awareness of the situation so that I won’t repeat the same mistake.
This post is two fold: 1. “How do you respond when you are held accountable for your actions and choices?”, and 2. “Who do you have in your life holding you accountable?” Both of these questions are important to reflect upon. Let’s start with the first: “How do you respond to being held accountable?” When I was made aware of the problems my actions had caused, I had two choices. I could have either pointed fingers, blamed others, and not taken ownership of my actions, or I could have done what I did; take ownership and set things right. The difference between the two reactions is that one focuses on being a victim while the other focuses on being better. How we respond to being held accountable says a lot about our character. What type of character do you want to have, and what kind of legacy do you want to live?
The second question is just as important as the first: “Who do you have in your life holding you accountable?” If you answered no one, then my next question is, “Are you holding yourself accountable?” It is vital that we have people in our life that are willing to hold us accountable to our words and actions. If we are never held accountable, we begin to make excuses for our poor decisions and behaviors. We begin to play the role of the victim rather than looking for ways to better ourselves. Being held accountable is not always comfortable, but it is a necessity.
We need to learn that being humbled is an opportunity for personal growth. We must be careful how we react when we are held accountable to our words and actions. We need to let go of our pride and ego and be open minded to instruction and constructive criticism. Again, it’s not always easy, but it is a necessity. Our goal should always be to become better, and becoming better is a never ending process.
As leaders, we also need to remember that our words and actions are always being scrutinized, whether we think so or not. We also need to remember that our goal is to better those around us, and one way we can do that is by humbly accepting constructive feedback from those who hold us accountable to our words and actions. We need to relinquish our want to be right and accept that we may need to make changes in our character. We must listen, without becoming defensive, and be willing to take ownership of our words and actions.
As always, stay humble and serve well!