Without accountability for actions there would be no progression in our lives or in our organizations. And as Tomas Paine expressed when he stated, “…men holding themselves accountable to nobody ought not to be trusted by anybody.” We ought not trust those who are unwilling to be accountable.
Each of us has a moral and legal responsibility to be accountable for our own actions. And anyone who holds any kind of leadership position – whether as a business leader, a civic leader, a church leader, or as a parent – has the added responsibility of also holding those people they lead accountable for their actions and for allowing them to face the consequences of their bad behavior.
While leaders should be quick to forgive those who are willing to acknowledge their mistakes, rectify them, and change their behavior, they should still require people to face the consequences for their poor choices and actions because it is in facing those consequences that people grow and improve. Leaders who don’t require this aren’t being kind, rather they are actually damaging the people they lead’s ability to learn and grow as they need to.
When mistakes are made or people behave badly, it is the leaders responsibility to ensure that things get resolved, and a matter isn’t truly resolved until accountability has been taken, the problem has been honestly acknowledged, what can be done to rectify the situation (which often includes having people face consequences for bad behavior that has occurred) has been done, and proper safeguards have been put in place to ensure the same problem won’t occur again. It is in resolving things properly that we allow ourselves and others to be able to progress.
No question that personal accountability takes work. And being a leader with the responsibility to also ensure that those you lead take personal accountability is even more work. But I love the words spoken by D. Todd Christofferson that reiterate the importance of defending against the inclination to avoid the work required to help ourselves and others to grow:
“Personal accountability becomes both a right and a duty that we must constantly defend… We must defend accountability against persons and programs that would (sometimes with the best of intentions) make us dependent. And we must defend it against our own inclinations to avoid the work that is required to cultivate talents, abilities, and Christlike character.”
Don’t be afraid to hold people accountable. Love them, forgive them, but allow them to face the consequences of their bad behavior so you can help them to learn and grow so they can eventually become all that God intended them to be.