Who influences you? Who are you following? Who is a father figure to you? Who is responsible for you? Where do you turn when you have difficulty? Who disciplines you? To whom do you report? All these, and more, are questions that point to leadership and accountability and why we need it. We must be in position to answer them convincingly if our leadership is to be viewed as accountable.
Accountability and effective leadership go hand in hand. Show me a leader who is accountable and I will show you an organization or institution whose future, continuity and impact is sure.
Accountability among other things is about being as good a follower as one is as a leader. It is about learning to follow well, before beginning to lead. It seems to me that for a good number of leaders, it is much easier to jump in and lead than to follow. Leading is easier for us to do – so we think – than to follow.
I am aware that there are leadership situations where the accountability structures have already been set for us. In such structures, whether we like them or not, we have little or no say about following and being accountable to the establishment; we just follow. But how about situations/circumstances where you are at the top of the structure, or maybe even charged with the responsibility of creating the accountability structure? What if you were the main leader or founder? What if there was no one within the structure for you to be accountable to? What if there was no one for you to follow?
Sadly, we have scenarios – and they are not few – where leaders have acted as the ultimate. Such leaders have demonstrated no accountability, and it appeared as if there was no one to be accountable to, no one else they could follow. In their world, there are no other leaders for them to follow. They are the leaders, they can’t follow anyone; instead, everyone must follow them. Yes, a few follow-on, but many stop following sooner than later. In the end, such leaders end up in what J. C. Maxwell calls “taking a walk”, when there is no one following.
Of course there are always consequences, and they are not good most of the time. For unaccountable leaders, this signals the beginning of a downward spiral and at worst, a slip into self destruction.
Is it possible to lead well without being accountable? I think not and that’s why I am advocating for leadership that is accountable. I wish to see all leaders being good followers as well. I think this is what Paul of Tarsus means when he said to those he led “Follow me as I follow Christ” (1Corithians 11:1). In essence he was saying, ‘yes, I am your leader, you should follow me, but I am also a follower’. It gives me a lot of comfort, as a follower, when I know that my leader to, is a follower.
Being a follower first – which demands being accountable to the one we follow – will keep us in check, shielded from being destroyed by leadership. It will help us overcome the corruption that comes as a result of the power that leadership brings.
Make no mistake; all of us are potential candidates for the corruption that comes as a result of the power that leadership gives. However, if we are accountable, if we become good followers first before we demand that others follow us, we will overcome the corruption and the ultimate downfall that comes with it. The assumption is that we are choosing those that we follow and are accountable to very well.
Is it possible to lead well without being accountable? What other benefits exist in being an accountable leader? Leave a comment bellow.