Definition: Subject to having to report, explain, or justify; being answerable, responsible. — Webster’s Dictionary
For several years we have discussed “Accountability” within the Arkansas National Guard. Our Adjutant General, MG William Wofford stressed accountability upon assuming command of the Arkansas National Guard, and since then leaders have been tasked with assuring accountability at all levels. The challenge sometimes is defining accountability. Several years ago I researched associated values and characteristics of accountability, and wanted to share those definitions with you this week for your leadership discussions in the future. For military leaders, accountability is defined as, “The requirement for commanders to answer to superiors for mission accomplishment, for the lives and care of their Soldiers, and for effectively and efficiently using Army resources.” Another take on accountability is this definition taken from the book, The Oz Principle: “A personal choice to rise above one’s circumstances and demonstrate the ownership necessary for achieving results – to See It, Own It, Solve It, and Do It.“ So for the military professional, we are held accountable for mission accomplishment, lives and resources, but we also have a choice to take proactive ownership of the mission, lives, and resources based on our position as a leader. So how do we do this? Based on research from a leadership survey used several years ago, accountability can be broken down into four categories and characteristics:
1. Personal Responsibility (Integrity) is the ability to hold ourselves accountable for achieving or not achieving desired results, expecting only the best from our subordinates, and holding ourselves, them and each other to high ethical and moral standards. 2. Commitment (Duty) is the drive to maintain the momentum of operations to achieve results, the excitement about the daily opportunity to make things happen, and the resolve to do whatever must be done to produce the best results, no matter how difficult. 3. Candor (Personal Courage) is the acceptance of feedback, the invitation for candid feedback from everyone about their (and our) performance, always wanting to hear the truth, even when it is bad, and the ability to make subordinates feel that they can be honest and open. 4. Servant hood (Selfless Service) is the ability to display the ability to work with others to accomplish the mission, a willingness to serve our subordinates and others in the organization, and a choice to put what is best for our followers and the organization ahead of our personal agenda/ambition.
Now the real question – how do we measure up to these values and characteristics? Years ago I asked that question in a leadership survey with our full-time officers, Majors and below, and the results indicated that we had some room for improvement; no matter how good we are, there is always room for improvement. If you want to know how we measure up today, I invite you to pose that question to your subordinates. This would make a great professional development session, and may give you and all of us a fresh look at our accountability within the Arkansas National Guard.
Army Leadership, FM 6-22 Army Command Policy, AR 600-20 Mission Command: Command and Control of Army Forces, FM 6-0 Communication and Organizational Crisis, Matthew Seegar, Timothy Sellnow & Robert Ulmer Developing the Leaders Around You, John C. Maxwell Becoming a Person of Influence, John C. Maxwell The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John C. Maxwell Winning, Jack Welch Patton on Leadership, Alan Axelrod Real Dream Teams, Bob Fisher & Bo Thomas Leading in a Culture of Change, Michael Fullan Good to Great, Jim Collins The Leadership Challenge, James Kouzes & Barry Posner The Oz Principle, Roger Connors, Tom Smith, & Craig Hickman