Leadership: The Ultimate Accountability
Leaders have a choice – to lead people toward achievement by ethical means or to lead them toward unethical gain. History has taught us how easily individuals can succumb to the temptations of power, money and greed. The Enron debacle provides a perfect example of unethical leadership and employees seduced and girded by the allure of power and prestige.
Followership is a human need, especially in times of economic and emotional strife. Indeed, an article in Medill Reports by Natalie Brunell, October 6, 2011, highlighted a study by Stanford University that demonstrated a troubling possibility: That generous leaders may be regarded as ideal commanders only in situations of limited competition, whereas tough, power-wielding leaders are more desirable in times of hardship. Sigmund Freud explored this phenomenon in is book “Moses and Monotheism”, which he penned on the eve of global conflict in 1936. The book explained that Hitler’s tyrannical behaviour earned him the support of a nation at a time of great emotional and economic need. According to Freud “We know that the great majority of people have a strong need for authority which they can admire, to which they can submit and which dominates and sometimes even ill-treats them”. The ability to persuade and to seduce is apparent in many a successful leader. But that power can also be perverted when the need for ethical leadership is greatest.
So often those in power are not held accountable. Many financiers, when the house of cards finally tumbles, walk away chagrined only by the need to keep a low profile at the country club. The mansion in the Keys remains, and a colleague provides a lucrative consultancy position. Many a national leader is able to leave office, passing the shattered ruins of a nation to a new leader who must begin to unearth the harsh realities of economic disaster.
The bottom line is that leaders are the ultimate model of accountability. The words and actions of influential leaders set the tone and direction for those who follow. So it’s crucial that leaders take their own responsibility and accountability seriously, as their legacy of consequences – both positive and negative – might just spread a lot further than they think.
Post by Di Worrall
Award-winning Business Transformation & Strategy Consultant, Best Selling Author, Executive Coach
Find out more about the link between high performance and high accountability in Di Worrall’s #1 Amazon best selling book: Accountability Leadership – How Great Leaders Build a High Performance Culture of Accountability and Responsibility (2013) at http://amzn.to/1cphIpl
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Genre - Business, Leadership, Workplace Behaviour, Human Resources, Executive Coaching
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