"Accountability....why is it so important ? Accountability is about credibility !"

"Accountability is the act of holding people responsible for what they do. And are those actions consistent with what they say.  And so leaders have to hold themselves accountable and they have to hold others accountable because if we believe in what we’re saying as an organization – as a group of people – then we will all be doing what we say. It’s not just one person – the leader- but it’s all of us. So accountability is really holding ourselves to task over whether we are doing what we say. Whether we are keeping our promises. Whether our actions are consistent with our words."

My partner and I have spent years doing research on what people expect of leaders. We asked people what do you admire in a leader ...leader being  someone’s direction you would willing follow ? We got about 150 different attributes.  We were able to categorize them into about 20 different categories. Of those 20, we asked people to select the top seven. Over the last 30 years that we have been gathering this data, we find that four – and only four qualities - have been selected by 60% or more consistently over that long period of time. Taken by themselves, they are interesting but when you put them together it becomes a very powerful message.

The top four are: honest, forward looking, competent and inspiring. Three of those four -  honest, inspiring and competent are what researches in the social sciences call ‘source credibility’. Credibility ends up being the foundation of leadership; credibility is that foundation on which be build everything. Personal credibility. When you ask people what is credible behavior they say ‘do what you say you will do’. Practice what you preach. Put your money where you mouth is. Actions have to be consistent with words. So it implies two fundamental things. The first part is be clear about what you are going to say; what are you values , your beliefs? What is your philosophy? What do you stand for ? but then, the test of whether your truly believe in those or not is whether you do them.

This excerpt is from an excellent interview with Jim Kouzes, author of 'The Leadership Challenge'