What makes personal accountability so rare?

Why is accountability such a rarity in todays world?  It seems like everywhere we look there is someone blaming someone else for the challenges they face in life or the choices they have made.  Whether we’re talking about politicians, coworkers, family members, etc. personal accountability is almost non-existent in todays world.  But why is that?

Why is it that instead of looking for ways to improve the world around us and take responsibility for our mistakes, we’ve created a culture where blaming others and throwing temper tantrums when things get tough is the acceptable alternative?

The reality is, some parts of life are completely out of our personal control.  Some parts of life suck and there are bad things that happen to good people for no apparent reason.  And it’s also fair to say that each and every one of us face our own individual challenges in life, some much worse than others…

But what I have come to appreciate most in life is that once we take accountability for the parts of life that we can control, things suddenly become so much easier.

So if accountability for what we can control makes life easier down the road, why is accountability so difficult?

Here’s my answer…

We live in a world where mistakes are viewed as weaknesses.  In today’s world, we hold people to an unachievable standard of perfect where bad choices are held against people forever.  Whether in our professional or personal lives, our culture often looks down upon those who make mistakes.  There is so much pressure to constantly make the right choices that we as human beings stray away from taking accountability for the times we’re wrong.  In an effort to save face, we instinctually blame others instead of accepting responsibility for the actions and choices that we have made.

That’s where us as leaders MUST step in…

We must set the example that personal accountability for our mistakes is more important than always being right.  When you as the leader step up and take responsibility for your flaws, mistakes and choices, others will follow suit. It would be unrealistic to assume everyone on our teams will want to follow in our footsteps but this shift is our culture will have profound impacts on the majority.

When you as the leader have the bravery and courage to say, “I screwed up” we begin creating a new culture where others understand that we are all imperfect.  Your followers will take that as a sign that mistakes are acceptable if accountability follows and we learn from our mistakes.

And as a result, when our followers begin to accept their mistakes as opportunities to learn and become better, we as leaders will see increased productivity, efficiency and success in our teams.  Why?  Because suddenly our followers stop wasting time blaming others and being afraid to fail but rather as opportunities to learn, innovate and do better.

By: Timothy A. Natale

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