Andy Stanley recently stated this in his podcast.  He said, “I am responsible for every bad decision I have ever made”.  And you know what, I have to say the same thing.  And so do you.

Let me say that again.  “I am responsible for every bad decision I have ever made”.  Are you brave enough to say it?  It’s fundamental if you are going to be a person of accountability.

But taking accountability is hard.  We’ve all made mistakes. But that doesn’t mean it’s fun to take responsibility for it.  In fact, we often make excuses for our bad decisions.  Let’s explore some of those, shall we?

But, I was given bad advice

Yes, you were.  But you are not the first person to have been given bad advice.  Sometimes it’s not just bad advice, it’s completely fabricated.  Sometimes people lie to you.  But, do you know what?  In the end, you made the decision.

In my coaching practice, I often meet business owners who paid too much for their business.  They will tell me how they were misled by the previous owner.  I remind them that the object of the game is the same in every deal.  The seller is trying to maximize their profit by making what they are selling look great.  The buyer is trying to spend as little as possible by finding every flaw.  Whether you are selling a house, a car or a business, this is always the case.

I love watching the History Channel show “American Pickers”.  On one episode Mike and Frank bought what they thought was an antique ship wheel.  It looked too good to be true.  And they paid a small fortune for it.  They got it back to the shop where their expert took a look and pointed out how it was a fake in a matter of seconds. It would be easy for the guys to put all the blame on the seller.  But the guys owned up to the mistake and didn’t blame anyone but themselves.

I didn’t have the right team

I’ve been there too.  But then again, most of us who have served in leadership positions over a long period has had this happen.  Sometimes you are handed a team to lead that just doesn’t have it together.  Sometimes a bad hire or a restructuring creates bad chemistry.  Whatever the case, you have a team that is underperforming.  And you are their leader.

I recently read a quote by Sheryl Sandberg, “Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence”.  The first part is what I want to focus on.  As a leader, do you make others better as a result of your presence?  If so, well done.  Over time, you’ll move the needle with this team and get them where they need to be.  If not, why not?

I have lead many dysfunctional teams over the years.  And for the most part, each of them developed into a functioning, successful organism.  But it takes work and intentionality.  Sometimes you have to make tough decisions (terminating a bad seed, for example).  Sometimes it takes bold moves in restructuring.  In some case,s you need to realign the leadership in order to avoid conflicts. As the leader, you need to understand the team dynamics, make course adjustments as necessary, and challenge the natural leaders in the team to drive unity and work toward a common goal.

There were economic factors outside of my control

This is another common excuse and one that we often see with sales teams.  And, to be honest, there is some truth to this.  For example, during the recent economic recession, most companies were spending less.  Consequently, many B2B companies struggled as sales diminished.  Many companies went out of business, consolidated operations or merged with others in order to sustain the market conditions.

During that same economic period, I led the development of a new division in a B2B company.  And not just any B2B company, one that was, in essence, selling technology that many would consider optional and not core to their business.  Did we see a downturn in traditional sales?  Sure we did.  But did the company’s sales grow in spite of it?  Yes, they absolutely did.

We used the economic downturn as a catalyst for growth.  While we sold fewer high-end solutions, we had great success in selling more affordable ones.  SaaS solutions were just coming available, so it was a great opportunity to replace very expensive legacy systems with less expensive subscription-based solutions. And some industries, like Healthcare, needed our solutions to drive costs down.

Are you a Victor or a Victim?

As a FocalPoint business coach, I hold my client’s accountable for their actions. In fact, when talking to potential clients, the willingness to take accountability is one of the most important traits I look for in a good client. It’s at the core of being “coachable”.

We teach a concept called “Victor/Victim” from the “Oz Principle”.  We look at people in two categories.  The first is the victim.  And we use the anagram BENDS to define them:

  • B – BLAME – A victim always looks for someone to blame.
  • – EXCUSES – There is always an excuse for every mistake.
  • – NEGATIVE – They are not a source of positive energy.
  • – DENIAL – It ain’t just a river in Egypt.  The victim lives in this state.
  • – SCARCITY – A victim has a scarcity mindset, looking at the glass as half-empty.

On the other hand, the Victor stands tall.  And we use this anagram PROVE to describe this type of person:

  • – POSITIVE – These are people who put off positive energy.
  • – RESPONSIBILITY – A victor is responsible for their actions.
  • – OWNERSHIP – A victor takes ownership of their position, their actions and their life.
  • – VISION – They have a vision for a better future.
  • – EXCELLENCE – They deliver quality results.

Authenticity is the new Power Play

In the past decade, we have seen an increase in interest in the word authenticity.  With millennials, it is seen as one of the most important traits in businesses, bosses, politics, churches and in everyone they deal with.

Author Carey Neuhoff says “People admire your strengths, but they resonate with your weaknesses”.  This is the essence of authenticity.  A truly authentic and accountable person owns up to their mistakes, personifies the traits of the victor, and is willing to say “I am responsible for every bad decision I have ever made”.

Are you?

A leader like this must have a sense of deep and grounded confidence.  Find out more about how business coaching can help you become a more accountable leader in your organization by visiting my coaching page.