Nothing New Under the Sun...

accept responsibility accountability accountable consequences leadership culture reputation what is accountability in the workplace Nov 30, 2021
What is Accountability in the Workplace

I remember being in a small group with John Maxwell in Orlando several years ago when someone asked him what I thought was a strange question… The fellow said, “John, all of your books today are geared at the business community. I’m a pastor and I’d like to have some biblical references for the leadership material you teach.”

The reason I thought this was so strange was that John actually started his career in ministry and is still very involved in that field today through his non-profit organization, EQUIP. I guess that fellow hadn’t been quite the Maxwell nerd that I had for the 15 or so years leading up to that point…? John quickly replied by saying “Everything I’ve ever learned about leadership came from the Bible; I haven’t written anything new that you can’t find there.” Then John went on to explain where he started and how hard it had been for him to move the focus of his work from the pastoral space to the secular space.

In the spirit of John’s comment that there’s really nothing new today that hasn’t been around for years and years, let’s circle back to the lack of accountability we started looking at last time. Before we do though, I’ll share that the organization Cindy’s been teaching to be accountable has made significant progress with the issue she’s been talking with them about (several times daily) - and it just so happens that the progress seems to happen right after they start taking action on the things they hadn’t been doing until she asks about them…

In the late 90’s, me and a few of my roommates went to quite a few concerts. Many of those were in dumpy bars but it was a chance to see bands that had been playing in arenas just a decade prior at the height of the hair band era… If you’ve seen some of the recent Geico commercials, you may remember the one where a couple bought a new home that had a rat problem. Instead of the terrifying marsupial rats that Mike and Marcus had to deal with in the attic scene of Bad Boys II, the commercial flashes to scenes of the 80’s band, RATT. 

RATT was one of the bands we saw in those days. Prior to seeing them live that first time, I had always enjoyed their music quite a bit. That ended with this particular show…

As the band came on stage, the lead singer - who clearly thought he still deserved to be playing for thousands of people instead of 200 or so in a smoky bar - made it very evident that he didn’t want to be there. He commented about having a cold, blew snot on a guy in the front row, and proceeded to put on a poor performance that even the best sound effects couldn’t make up for. While this wasn’t one of those social media keyboard warriors Mike Tyson was referencing, Stephen Pearcy did have a security staff to keep the face punches at bay.

RATT put out at least a half a dozen fairly good albums in the 80s and 90s, but I remember that incident more than all those albums combined. That said, I have no doubt that the singer had no recollection of it whatsoever. Why should he? There was no (immediate) consequence for his actions; no one held him accountable… But I can’t think for even a minute that I was the only one in that crowd who never spent a dime on their music or shows again after seeing him do that!

Being unaccountable isn’t new at all! I’m sure we could find plenty of examples much earlier than the 90s; there’s really nothing new under the sun... But it’s certainly become more prevalent in recent years. If we have any hopes of changing directions, we need to be able to define it clearly and understand just how much it impacts our organizations so we can begin to eradicate it… We’ll start that process next time!