Accountability is a word that’s thrown around quite a bit nowdays, but do we truly understand what accountability really means when it comes to leadership? As leaders, it’s easy for us to focus on keeping those who we lead accountable for their actions. We, as leaders, keep ourselves accountable to a board or another team of peers to keep ourselves out of the troubles that society considers to be wrong. This extremely narrow definition of accountability, however, leads to a lot of pain and suffering amongst leaders, staff, family members and even society. Maybe instead of the word “accountable” we need to start using the word “responsible”. Because as a leader, we are not only responsible for the things that we or our people do wrong; we are responsible FOR our people. Because if we are not, we are falling into the sin that’s described in James 4:17 “Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.”
One example of this in my career was when I had a staff member who one day just looked like something was wrong. So when the time was right, I pulled her aside and inquired about what was wrong. She told me that she was going through a hard time, but that it didn’t matter because she needed the work and she didn’t want to let me down. After hearing her story, I immediately offered to put her on a plane and still pay her what was already arranged. With tears in her eyes, she said she couldn’t accept it. But I told her that she and her family were more important than any job we would ever do together.
Accountability in leadership means that we know who our people are, what their needs are, where they’re at emotionally and spiritually, and that we take care of them. This means making your people more important than your bottom line. And the bottom line is more than dollars and cents; but what you measure success as.
So what does this mean for you?
First of all, take a good honest look at where you’ve been lacking in accountability, how you haven’t been responsible for your people.
Second, ask God to help you learn how to properly serve the people you lead.
Third, start carrying out what God teaches you to do. And don’t forget to apologize where needed.
The accurate definition of accountability is best taught by a leader’s example. That’s why it’s our responsibility to lead the way God created us to lead: as servants.