I’d like to highlight another of the leadership pillars that is instilled by military service: the military success trait – accountability. By being accountable and “owning up”, leaders can move past the blame game and give deep focus to learning from outcomes that were unanticipated or negative. Examining small failures provides a new awareness
that can be applied to decisions of greater magnitude. Military leaders learn that failing doesn’t necessarily make you a failure – You can own it, fix it, learn from it and move on.
At the onset of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, there seemed to exist an accountability vacuum with several companies involved in “finger pointing”. I recall thinking about the high standards of the U.S. Nuclear Navy, the quality programs established on ownership and responsibility, and how an accident like this would have an immediate owner – the Captain.
Accountability is critical for any business or process where quality and safety are important. Shared organizational accountability is critical for empowerment. Leading organizations are trending towards people-focused leadership, that is, servant leaders, accountable for the success of the associates in their organization. Military leaders are great at being accountable for a mistake in their team, putting focus on the fix and making the lesson learned part of the process moving forward.
How accountable are your mid-level managers?
Image courtesy Confessions Of A U.S. Navy Submarine Officer