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Leadership at Work Begins at Home: Workplace Accountability

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Leadership begins at home – workplace accountabililty

Leadership at Work Begins at Home: Workplace Accountability

One of the key ingredients to being a great leader is Accountability. So many talk about it, but few walk that walk, especially out of eyesight or ear shot of their workplace.

One of my favorite authors is Linda Galindo and she said, “Whether you admit it or not, you are accountable for everything you’re involved with, whether it turns out good or bad. The outcome belongs to everyone who touched the project, not just the ones who made the mistakes.”

My son is twenty-seven now, but back when he was at home around the age of 5 or 6, we used to enjoy going out in the front yard and passing the Nerf football around. It was just the size for his growing hands and he learned quickly to throw a nice spiral.

Our routine was to warm-up by throwing the ball 5 to 6 feet apart and then lengthen the distance over time. Eventually we would always end up running routes and passing the ball to each other. There is nothing like a youngster who was an avid follower of Joe Montana to run routes and have the ball fall right into your hands upon making your cut by the bush in your neighbor’s yard.

Nonetheless, I snapped the ball, faked it to an imaginary back, while Nate ran a perfect down and out by our neighbors tree. As I stepped up and threw the ball, it slipped out of my hand and landed near the top of the tree. It lay stuck solid between two branches.

We threw a few stones, then tried a few sticks, and even tried to climb and shake the tree, but all to no avail. Then I got a bright idea. Why not throw our aluminum bat straight up and allow it to hit the ball. Now don’t get ahead of me…this is the day I learned that leadership and particularly accountability starts at home.

I wound the bat in a circular motion and released it with all my might. It launched into space like the Apollo 11 and blitzed right through the leaves and branches and made contact with the ball. The ball fell, but the bat kept going and going and going.  We even picked the ball up and began to play catch again when we came to the reality that “what goes up…must come down!”

As we stood about 15 yards apart, we observed the bat finally flipping over and starting its descent. It seemed to move ever so slightly but enough each second to indicate that it’s landing spot would be in my neighbor’s driveway near his new car – only 2 weeks old.

You guessed it! It hit the trunk and the bat bounced wildly and hit it again and finally rested on the concrete driveway. At that moment in time, my mind was blurred with thoughts of how will I explain this. Especially to my wife! I turned to look at my son and he looked at me. He then yelled with all of his might, “RUN”! And took off into our house.

Believe me, I wanted to. But the right thing to do was to be an example of what I had talked about. I marched over to my neighbor’s house and explained to him what had happened. I told him I did it and NOT Nate! I would pay for all damages.

It ended up being a sixteen hundred-dollar lesson! Ouch! But Nate to this day still remembers what I did! Notice I did not say he remembers what I said! Leadership, especially accountability, starts at home!

What other leadership principles start at home? We would love to hear your comments below. Thanks!

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  • Cyndi Everetts August 2, 2012, 8:49 am

    A phenomenal story! Thanks for sharing that. Here’s my example:
    When the Guardian Angels (Volunteer community patrol group) came to Denver, my husband and I joined. We trained, we walked, we helped protect our community). Eventually, we both became Patrol Leaders. Frequently, we would have ‘civilian walk-alongs-folks not members of our group, but interested in our program for one reason or another. As a Patrol Leader, these walk alongs were partnered with us, where we would talk about our program, our history, etc…
    Inevitably, people would ask about my role as a female patrol leader, my family, etc. Without fail, once they found out I was married and had 3 small children, they asked “Why on earth would you do this then? You are putting yourself in harms way. And you have KIDS!” For many years, I gave the company line “I want to give back to my community.” Which was true..but on the other hand…I had to have personal motivation to get me to put in all those hours, 6 nights a week, sometimes 10 hours a night on weekends. So, when my elderly mother asked me the very same question, I was really forced to examine myself. I mean, my MOTHER wasn’t gonna buy the company line!
    I came to realize and have told many since then: I do this because I believe that every individual has a right to move through their community without fear. Similarly, every individual has a duty to others who are or might be harmed while going about in their community. If my presence deters someone from harming someone else, makes drug dealers hide in the shadows or move along to another area, or if I can render aid to someone it is my responsibilty. I have to do this because I have to represent what is good and right in our city. I have to demonstrate to my children, not just TELL them that you must not turn a blind eye. So, this became my answer when people asked me the question.
    I’d like to think that I was successful. All of my children are grown now, all are productive members of our city, they have all come to the aid of someone being victimized or in trouble. My son, now 21, has saved three lives, and has graduated a youth police training program, wanting to be an officer some day.
    I also know that when my husband passed away in February, my house was overflowing with Guardian Angels-so many it was standing room only at the wake! I feel like not only did I personally demonstrate to my children to stand up for what they believe in, but the Angels demonstrated to them that love and support in a time of need is not restricted to blood family members. My children were overwhelmed at the outpouring of red berets and the love and support of those who stand up for others.

  • R. Mark Macy August 2, 2012, 12:15 pm

    Ms Everetts
    Thanks for sharing a fine example how leadership begins at home! A leader knows what he/she has to do in their heart to make the difference they have been called for. I concur…there is nothing like the love and support for those who stand up for others. True Leadership!

  • Randi Knutson August 2, 2012, 3:11 pm

    Great story, and told with great imagery. I can picture your son yelling,and your hesitation as you perhaps considered it.
    The story this week about the Louisiana Tech bulldog mascot left out in the heat at the Veterinarian’s office is a sad opposite. The worker who made the mistake, as it certainly was, tried to cover it up by claiming the dog was stolen. A mistake is one thing. Avoiding responsibility is a second and more damning mistake.

  • R. Mark Macy August 2, 2012, 5:10 pm

    I’ve found in my career, teaching and consulting that “responsibility” is a lacking quality. Without it, integrity has and will continue to suffer. I share that when the rules of Basketball were change to refrain a player from having to raise his hand when a foul is called on him as the beginning of the decline of mass responsibility. It’s easy to lie, operate in the grey, or make excuses than to be man/women enough to admit the wrong, correct it and move on. Thanks for your comments! Great Days Are Ahead with Leaders such as yourself!


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