Leadership: “I take full accountability”

I don’t use Spotify. Never have. Just not that into music. I am, though, into Personal Accountability. When I see it, I love it. Bet you do, too!

Accountable Leadership

Daniel Ek, co-founder, and CEO of Spotify, made a rare public statement recently. Announcing to all staff the need to reduce the workforce, he said this:

“In hindsight, I was too ambitious in investing ahead of our revenue growth. And for this reason, we are reducing our employee base by 6% across the company. I take full accountability for the moves that got us here today.”

Rare, indeed. Laying people off is not easy, but at least Ek didn’t blame or make excuses. 👏🏻

Note: Let’s not judge people who express responsibility by posing cynical questions like, “Yeah, but what are you gonna do about it now?” and “What actions will you take to fix your mistake?” Accepting a person’s accountable words at face value is the right thing to dojust as I would want others to do for me. 😊

Meanwhile, do you need to make an “accountable” admission to someone today? Do I?

Un-Accountable Non-Leadership

While I was facilitating a senior management team session, the conversation moved into the serious arena of results, numbers, and profitability, and the CEO said about the oddest thing I’ve heard in my training career. Regarding profit, he declared, “Hey, I don’t want that ball!” I wondered if I’d heard him right. Does this CEO not want to be accountable for the organization’s profit? Not surprisingly, it wasn’t long after that meeting the board of directors realized they didn’t have the best person in the job.

Day-To-Day Leadership

I don’t need to be a CEO to lead, of course. This is the stuff of everyday leadership:

My relationships are suffering—I take full accountability.

My grade-schooler isn’t minding—I take full accountability.

My team at work isn’t gelling—I take full accountability.

My sales numbers are down—I take full accountability.

My career has stalled—I take full accountability.

My health and fitness are poor—I take full accountability.

My spiritual life is languishing—I take full accountability.

Not all that complicated, eh? 😉

Leaders Live FUN

Any person who lives like this, believe you me, lives on a higher plane than most folks; in a better place, that is. By doing so, greater joy, peace, effectiveness, productivity, and fun are experienced.

Yes, fun. There’s a delightful element to life when we practice Personal Accountability in all things. You probably already know this because you understand there’s no long-lasting enjoyment in blaming, whining, complaining, and procrastinating.

Nor is there in feeling entitled, being perpetually offended, and/or living a life of envy.

So today, let’s go to that better place where leaders live—the one of Personal Accountability. There we’ll see what sort of fun we can have. You with me? 😎


2 Responses

  1. John, as always, a nice blog and an important point. However, I am curious about how you view the next step in the process that comes after, “I take full responsibility”. I have met many people who have coined those words, but that is all they do. For example, if the CEO overhires, how does he prohibit it from happening again? How does he train myself to not do it again? Also, should he take a cut in pay for his mistake, or give out larger severance packages to those affected? My point is it’s easy to say words or apologize but taking action and making changes may be much harder and more painful. Jim

    1. Jim, thanks for sharing. Part of the QBQ! message of Personal Accountability is shedding my cynicism. It is not mine to judge others, to doubt their integrity. So, when someone verbalizes anything that sounds like, “I take full accountability,” I take those words at face value. Just as I would want others to do so for me! Be well, Jim!

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