It seems almost comical writing about this topic. We have so many books available to us focusing on topics such as growing leaders and how to find leadership in the workplace. Leadership is a blanket term that college graduates put on their resumes. When asked about the roles and responsibilities that they possess and how it makes them a leader, what do you think the answer is? I led a group project in college where I kept everyone on track. Maybe they were a manager at a retail store or restaurant, and leadership was the only word they could think of to describe the horror that customer service industries are. In many ways, there are leadership skills applied here. In other ways, there most definitely were not.
When we think of authentic leadership, we don’t think of our managers at work or people in our lives. We think of Martin Luther King or Brené Brown. People who have genuinely moved and inspired those around them. We don’t automatically think of the manager at Jimmy Johns who led a team through the nightmares of sandwiches. While we think of those big names of people who have changed an entire generation, that does not mean there are no true leaders in everyday lives. We are past the point of waiting for the next big name to lead us all to greatness. We need many leaders from all walks of life working together, now more than ever. The best way to be an authentic leader is through accountability. Hmm, perhaps not one you heard of before. Accountability is something that true leaders have to stick to in the most difficult of times. It is the ultimate form of leadership when individuals have understood and practiced accountability in their personal lives. Living a life of accountability is different than preaching accountability. Anyone can say accountability is this or accountability is that. Authentic leadership and accountability are the alignments of words and actions.
Words and Actions
Let’s revisit that last phrase. Leadership and accountability are the alignments of words and actions. Think of an area of your life where your words and actions align. For instance, you can say I live a healthy lifestyle by going to the gym every day. What if one day you are not at the gym and people notice. What are they going to think? First, they will conclude that you lie and your words and action do not align. Secondly, they will not trust what you say moving forward. And thirdly, they will feel hurt and betrayed because you are a person they lied to. While this might seem like a minor play on words, it makes a difference when it is something substantial. Creating a space to have a conversation about the lack of accountability is where the real work comes in. If you are a person that is accountable through your words and actions, this conversation will likely go smoothly. If your actions and words do not align, the other person can throw this right back in your face. We have all had this done to us at one point or another, and it sucks because who likes to feel wrong.
Accountability in Life
You might have already acknowledged the connection between accountability and management. Telling an employee to get off their phone and then go into a back room to scroll Tik Tok does not promote an environment of trust. Living your authentic truth is the only way that you will be able to be accountable consecutively through every relationship. The hard part is showing people our emotions and the most vulnerable things to us. Finding the courage to say a few simple words can be the most life-changing and challenging moment of our lives. What is more impressive than holding onto whatever eats us up inside is sharing about it. Think of it this way, if you bury an emotion such as rage or sadness, is that fearful or strong? If you share feelings of rage or sadness with someone you love, is that more fearful or strong? Sharing is the way we express strength. It doesn’t have to be pretty or look perfect, but it is our body’s way of saying, I am strong enough to handle this. Hiding things is derived from a place of fear. People think it is so vital to hide, but it is one of the easiest coping methods. You will find that out if you commit to overcoming whatever you are coping with.
A Trick of the Trade
People’s actions never lie, but their words might. Suppose you want to know how committed someone is or who is important in their lives. Look only at their actions. What kind of integrity does someone have? Do they follow through or make excuses? These are all things you can find out solely by someone’s actions. People get caught up in words because they sound pretty, or it was a one-time thing. If you want to know the truth, don’t pay attention to the words, only the actions.
The same can be said about your actions. If you live by a moral code and keep accountability in your life, you will attract common people. They will likely keep you in check by only acknowledging actions. If you want to prove something, show them; don’t say it. Otherwise, your words are meaningless.
Application of Accountability
Applying this concept anywhere in life will provide you with a great relationship with yourself and others. Watch how people interact with you and how you interact with them. Accountability will show itself within actions regardless of the words that are used. Apply this to romantic relationships, careers, friendships, and family members. Eventually, you will see the truth through actions and can decide if this person should or should not have a place in your life. Sticking to your word is always good but start by showing someone your truth through actions.