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What Personal Accountability Can Do For You

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John Maxwell said, “Leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less.” In his book, Becoming A Person Of Influence, he also states the number one, most important thing an influencer must have is integrity.

The UCLA Graduate School of Management and Korn/Ferry of New York City confirmed this in a survey of 1,300 senior executives. Seventy-one percent of them stated integrity is the quality most needed to succeed in business.

A surefire way to lose our influence with others is not to take personal responsibility for our actions or the results we are getting, especially when they aren’t meeting the standard. As you may already know, I’m not a fan of mission statements. However, when an organization takes them seriously, and they are used effectively to guide daily decisions, they do have meaning.

Remember the Tylenol incident? The story goes that within an hour of the crisis being reported, the company’s President ordered all capsules to be removed from store shelves – a 100 million dollar decision! When later asked how he was able to make such a significant decision so quickly, he just replied, “I was practicing what we agreed on in our Mission Statement.”

Fortunately, for the majority of us, we don’t have to make daily decisions of this magnitude, but there is something to be learned here: In a moment of crisis, a leader quickly assumed responsibility, held his company accountable, and made a quick decision (despite the cost), that was in the best interest of the community at large.

For the remainder of this post, I would like to offer up some thoughts on what taking personal accountability and responsibility can do for you and your team:

  • Personal accountability and responsibility will help you make better decisions.
  • It increases the likelihood that your small problems remain small.
  • It helps you learn from your mistakes.
  • It earns the trust and respect of those you lead.
  • It can strengthen relationships with those you lead.
  • It empowers you to do the right thing, even after you may have done the wrong thing.

I will conclude with this lengthy, yet great quote by Dwight D. Eisenhower:

“In order to be a leader, a man must have followers. And to have followers, a man must have their confidence. Hence the supreme quality for a leader is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a sections gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office. If a man’s associates find him guilty of phoniness, if they find that he lacks forthright integrity, he will fail. His teachings and actions must square with each other. The first great need, therefore, is integrity and high purpose.”

Discussion:

What were your biggest takeaways from this article? How do you plan to apply it? Please comment below. I look forward to reading your leadership insights and interacting with you!


Nathan R Mitchell is America’s Leading Empowerment Coach. In 2010, in an effort to fulfill his purpose of empowering leaders to reach their potential, he founded the leadership development company, Clutch Consulting. Nathan is also a Certified Speaker, Trainer, and Coach with The John Maxwell Team. Originally from Springfield Missouri, he earned his B.S. Degree in Management and an MBA from Missouri State University. He lives near Tulsa Oklahoma with his wife and children.

Sources:

  1. Maxwell, John C., and Jim Dornan. Becoming a Person of Influence: How to Positively Impact the Lives of Others. Thomas Nelson, 2007.
  2. Maxwell, John C. Learning To Become A Person of Influence: Session 2. The John Maxwell Company, 2002.
  3. Maxwell, John C. Personal Responsibility: Why Is It So Hard To Own Up To Our Mistakes? Maximum Impact Mentoring. April 2018.
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