Being a leader is not just about the habits you practice in front of others. It is often about the habits you practice behind closed doors that make you an easy person to follow. Accountability is a touchy subject that can make many people feel uncomfortable, but it protects you as a leader and can exponentially increase the level of influence you have over a corporation or group of followers.
Here are a few ways you can develop the kind of accountability that makes you a better leader.
Set clear expectations for yourself
As a leader, you need to have a clear set of expectations of what you will do and what you will never do. This can go for your personal life as well as your professional life. If you are going to be an accountable person, you need to know in no uncertain terms what you are accountable for.
Establish an accountability partner
Establishing an accountability partner is as simple as finding a person you trust, telling them the expectations you have placed on yourself and asking them to follow-up with you regularly to ensure you haven’t lowered your standards. In finance, it is especially important to have someone you are accountable to. Countless companies each year get in legal trouble for laundering funds or evading taxes, when you are provided with access to company finances, make sure there is someone within your organization that goes behind you to check invoices and balances, this could save you a huge headache in the long run.
Establish a board of directors
Depending on the size of your business, your board of directors could be employees that are on the payroll, or it could be friends and family members that volunteer as advisers. Your board of directors need to have at least a moderate amount of business sense and they need to be easy to reach in crisis. Should you ever find yourself in the position of having to make a big decision quickly, you will need to access your board of directors to either obtain their permission to act, or discuss alternative courses of action.
Allow the people you lead to question you
Allowing employees to question your methods, does not mean you are allowing them to question your authority. If you have an employee that is feeling uncertain about a leadership practice or division in your company you should establish an open-door policy and allow them to ask difficult questions. It is okay for certain issues to remain private, but use your best judgment to determine how to respond to their questions and be as open and honest as possible.
Hold yourself to the same standard you hold others to
As a leader, you likely invest in certain security or monitoring services. It is important that you adhere to the same policies and procedures others are expected to. If your building has a strict internet security policy, set your work computer up with the exact same internet permissions as others. If you regularly monitor employee chats, make your chats public record. Anything that needs to be discussed privately should be discussed on paper or in person to avoid legal trouble and confusion.
As intimidating as developing accountability looks from the outside, it is a truly valuable asset that no leader can afford to be without. Accountability can protect you from legal backlash and disgruntled employees. When you make an effort to be the same leader behind closed doors as you are in front those you are leading, they will know you are a trustworthy person who is worth following!