Roy Williams in today’s Monday Morning Memo mentions Greg Farrell’s book, America Robbed Blind – a book that we picked up while at the Chapel Dulcinea Celebration. This book looks at the leadership culture that led to the destruction of Enron, Worldcom, Arthur Anderson et al. It’s really a book about accountability (that dreaded word) to shareholders, stakeholders and the laws of the land.
The question of accountability recently came up in a DVD we watched from the C3 conference at Fellowship Church in Texas. In a throwaway line to the assembled pastors, conference host Ed Young Jr. stated that ‘if someone asks you who you are accountable to, avoid them. They are trying to control you.’ (paraphrased) Really? This had to be one of either the dumbest or scariest statements I’d heard from a leader in a long time. Isn’t accountability part of the leadership package? Especially for a leader who is an orthodox Christian.
Leaders are accountable to the people they serve, to the leaders they serve with and to the leaders they are growing up. It’s called servant leadership and it finds its genesis in Jesus’ statement here:
So Jesus got them together to settle things down. He said, "You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around, how quickly a little power goes to their heads. It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not be served–and then to give away his life in exchange for the many who are held hostage." (The Message, Matthew 20:25-28)
Unaccountable leaders fulfill the maxim that absolute power corrupts absolutely – even the best of people are corrupted by it. Strong leaders surround themselves with strong people who are unafraid to confront the leader with truth. Weak leaders surround themselves with "yes-people" who live in fear for there jobs.
Strong leaders create a culture of leadership where all people are valued equally – and where creativity flourishes at all levels. I love this article from Leader to Leader on Leadership Cults and Cultures. This is one of the great quotes:
In a leadership culture, people are viewed as equals who are in different roles. Roles are based on the development of individual capabilities and are not a reflection of the intrinsic value of the person. As a result, people at all levels are acknowledged and valued as individual members and contributors — even those who break the rules in order to deliver value to the organization as a whole. The culture of leadership can tolerate its "rogue monkeys" because it can see the innovative power of nonconventional views of the world.
A leadership culture is a culture of accountability. If you ask a leader who they are accountable to and their response is to avoid you – be thankful. You really don’t want to be a part of that leadership cult.