I’m not a philosopher nor a doctoral degree recipient. And I’ve not spent years studying the inner workings related to the importance of accountability. But it’s something I “just know” matters in life, and in business. Call it a gut feeling. I’m sure you have those too.
And if you’ve ever encountered employers, employees, friends, family, or anyone really, who is not accountable for themselves or their actions, then you absolutely know what I’m talking about.
Around 15 years ago, I had the privilege of taking part in some master’s level leadership training when I was working at the University of South Dakota. We had an incredible number of conversations about the types of leaders there are. We talked about those whom we knew. We talked about the kinds of leaders we’d like to become.
It was fascinating and probably one of the best educational experiences I’ve ever had. Our professor was spectacular, so that was a plus, but the interaction between the students – an eclectic group of various ages and backgrounds – was the pinnacle of that experience.
As we meandered through conversations about leaders, and what makes the best leader, one of the things we all kept coming back to was that no matter what type of leader you are, whether soft-spoken, gregarious, humble or a bit “too” confident, all leaders need to be accountable. Accountability was considered a “hallmark” or required trait.
President Harry S. Truman was said to have had a sign on his desk that read: “The Buck Stops Here.” And whether you agree or disagree with his political positions or policies, it’s telling he truly understood that he was responsible, and he personally needed to be accountable for all decisions of his administration. He would own them… good or bad.
As human beings, we are fallible. We have imperfections and we make mistakes. The pressures of the world around us, unseen by those not on the inside or in the front row seats, are sometimes overwhelming and push us in directions we might not otherwise go. But it’s how we respond to those challenges, those mistakes, those faults, that truly measures our character.
Accountability begins with honesty. Accountable leaders say “I’m sorry” when needed, then seek to fix the actions that required the apology. Accountability means asking for help from those who can give it and accepting and learning from honest and well-intentioned criticism. And accountable leaders don’t blame others. As President Truman understood, right or wrong, the buck stopped with him.
A few years ago, NASGW adopted the tagline “Wholesale Trust.” We did this because we believe that manufacturers, retailers and the shooting sports community at large, can place their trust in the many family-owned and operated businesses that still make up the two-step distribution channel. These are companies who’ve seen both good and bad times in this industry. These are companies that have learned and embraced the importance of accountability.
So, while our organizations and companies may have some very difficult challenges surrounding us, if we commit to the principle of accountability, to ourselves and to each other as fellow shooting sports companies and individuals, we’ll have a long and prosperous future in front of us. Because that’s what accountability brings… success.
Until next time,