June 15, 2010 | Barb Carr

“Consume Accountability” by Summit Best Practice Speaker, Capt. George Burk

Outstanding leaders know that accountability is vital and it extends to other internal core values such as honesty, competence, courage, compassion and honor.  Outstanding leaders “wear” these core values like a coat draped around their shoulders because the core values are first and foremost personal, then professional … inside out, not outside in.  Here are a few ways to “wear” those core values (traits).

“The glory of great men must always be measured against the means they have used to acquire it.” ~ Francois de la Rochefoucauld, writer

Uphold your values.  “If you don’t have principled leaders, the other stuff doesn’t matter,” said Frances Hesselbein, President of the New York based Leader-to-Leader Institute. In the final analysis, when all is said and done, the character, integrity, honor and quality of the leader will determine the organization’s results.

“The first thing a great person does is make us realize the insignificance of circumstance.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, poet

Be consistent. To be a truly great leader you know that means you can’t pick your spots. Regardless of the circumstances or situation, you can’t be a little dishonest or choose to have a bit less integrity today. When you choose to slide, even a little, from your internal core values, it’s easier to slide a second and third time. Then slowly but surely, you ‘slide’ farther and farther away from them. The result is it becomes more difficult to return to the internal core values you once held.  It then becomes a “The Law of Self-Fulfilling Prophecy” and you break them again and again. It then becomes second nature.

“Actions start another’s trust like a starter starts a car.” ~ LT. Col Lynn Allen, USMCR (Ret)

Focus on results. That’s the best way to hold people accountable says Blythe McGarvie of Williamsburg, VA based LIF Group. Only reward staff based on the results they achieved and only when their work is successful but not if they miss their goals.  Don’t base any rewards or acknowledgements on effort alone.

Be concise.  Clearly and often enunciate your organization’s values; publish them in newsletters, reports and on plaques and other similar visual reinforcements. The most effective way is to share the values with employees and visitors at every opportunity.

Become the benchmark. People listen to the leader in the ‘conference room’ but watch them in the ‘hallway.’  They respond more to what the leader does than what the leader says he or she’s going to do. A leader’s actions must be congruent with their words; his or her actions are seamless and transparent. No difference between how they act in their personal lives and how they act at work.

“Leadership is a matter of how to be, not how to do,” says Hesselbein. “When they see you live and believe what you say, morale goes up and productivity soars.”

Act. When the leader sees the values being ignored, skewed or not reinforced, they take the necessary action to make sure to hold themselves and everyone else accountable. That’s accountability!

Be visible. No matter the situation, the leaders must remain visible to the staff and employees. When there’s bad news, don’t hide in your office or under the desk. Don’t delegate the message. Be the messenger. Deliver the news yourself.  Best way to do this is LBWA-O: Lead By Walking Around-Outside.  Make that the way you lead … out front and visible.

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” ~ Steve Jobs, Apple co-founder

Remain focused. Establish goals that reinforce and stay true to the mission. Leaders run into problems when they deviate from their goals. Then it’s short step to compromise their core values.

“There is nothing worse than a brilliant image of a fuzzy concept.” ~ Ansel Adams, photographer

Ensure people feel vital and valued. This is accomplished through training and encouraging and supporting them to get involved in volunteering and philanthropy.  This helps to add more purpose in their lives; knowing they are helping people in their community who are less fortunate.

Grasp the details. It’s important the leader knows the organization’s details … the numbers … people, financial, equipment and related resources. If you don’t know them or can’t understand them, they don’t seem reasonable or your presumptions don’t add-up, that should be a red flag. A bell should ring inside your head.

“Take care of those who work for you and you’ll float to greatness on their achievements.” ` H.S.M. Burns, oil industry executive


Captain George A. Burk will be presenting “Quality in Life and Work” on the Safety and Risk Management Track on Friday, October 29, 2010 at 8:00 a.m. at the Summit.  The 2010 TapRooT® Summit will be held October 27-29, 2010 in San Antonio, Texas (with Pre-Summit Courses October 25-26). For more information about Captain Burk:



800-769-8568/480-212-6321 cell

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