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There is No Integrity Without Accountability

“You can’t escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”

Abraham Lincoln

We always speak on the sacred nature of integrity. Believe this: if there are no consequences for success or failure, if there is no accountability, then there is no integrity.


Simply defined, who is responsible?

A good leader is responsible for everything he or she sees, and takes responsibility for outcomes whether good or bad.

This does not mean the leader fails on every problem caused by a subordinate. Knowing when to say “you committed” and when to say “I failed” is important. Most military people have witnessed a superior being dressed down publicly. It’s an abhorrent practice, but it happens. If the leader cannot assess or “hold accountable” the responsible party, the subordinates will always have that valuable “get-out-of-jail-free” card, knowing that their boss will take the fall for any failure. Strong leaders are not fall guys (or gals).

Saying and living the credo “the buck stops here” does not mean “it’s always my fault.” A smart leader will inculcate her people to believe that small failures on the job are owned by the whole team, and the leader’s job is to ensure that each cog in the wheel is functioning as proscribed.

If you cannot hold someone else accountable, then get a new job. If you cannot hold yourself accountable, someone will do it for you. We sometimes call them policemen.

USMC Leadership Qualities

Refer to these as often as you need to change the behavior. (In the first post of the corps2corporate series I suggested using the USMC Leadership Qualities as a way of assessing strengths and weaknesses of both yourself and your team. They are listed at the end of this memo.)

If the single words do not inspire you, make a declarative statement to attach to the leadership qualities.

· I will always exercise consistent good judgment.

· Things might not appear to be fair, but they must always be just(ice).

· Being knowledgeable must be demonstrated, not just talked about.

· Loyalty works both ways.

· Practice unselfishness and you will be rewarded in abundance.

· Keep your bearing no matter what troubles you.

· Have the courage to defend your principles.

· Be decisive and follow through on your commitments.

· Establish a reputation for dependability, and become indispensible.

· Enthusiasm is contagious.

· Take initiative in the absence of direction.

· Work at endurance. Everyone is watching the leader’s ability to carry on.

· Integrity, like character, is what you are in the dark.

· Exercise tact no matter how outrageous or offensive someone is. What ails them might not be evident.

· I’m throwing this one in for good measure…Act like a professional, and you will be treated like one. (act like a clown, or a flirt, or a slob, or a gossip, or a …)

Originally published, in part, May 2016.

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