Over my 25 years of working, I have worked with professionals from all walks of life. Many of them were hard working, a few were inspiring and demonstrated leadership. However, when I reached the VP level at Veeva I joined a group that displayed a leadership quality I had witnessed rarely but is in abundance on this team.
Put simply the quality is demonstrating extreme accountability for their actions and their words. That quality is not something you are likely to have been taught in a university degree or an MBA, but it’s an essential skill for reaching out a hand toward excellence and grasping it when we can.
I was taken aback when I first noticed this leadership quality. You could not fail to miss it. In every meeting no time is taken in avoiding blame, leaders jump straight to accepting the accountability for their actions or those of their team.
I have tried to list a few of the examples I see everyday at work:
- Leaders owning just what happened
- If they communicated poorly, they are willing to examine how their communication may have compounded the problem
- They never blame others
- I never hear excuses for why things are happening
- They don’t slope blame onto their teams or subordinates
- They acknowledge that a problem out of their control is their problem to solve
- And finally, they acknowledge that their choices shape their world and those of their teams and reflect on improvement first, always falling forwards
It is such a rare skill to demonstrate I had to write on it here. Suffice to say, this kind of mindset creates trust and leads to extreme positive results. The demonstration of this accountability is infectious or as Marianne Williamson wrote in her wonderful poem ‘our greatest fear’ ‘we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.’