“Power Corrupts, Ultimate Power Corrupts Ultimately”

I once met a CEO who never promoted anyone until they spent a minimum of six months volunteering in a charitable organization. She understood that when working with volunteers, titles mean nothing. “If you can’t inspire and influence people without a title, there’s no way I’m putting a title in your hands.”

Here are six ways to help ensure that power doesn’t corrupt you:

  • Surround yourself with people who will be brutally honest with you – and listen to what they say.
  • Assume you are never the smartest person in the room. Adopt a growth mindset and recognise that you can learn from everyone.
  • Expect the same from yourself that you expect from others.
  • Be open to challenge and constructive debate.
  • Create an open and transparent decision-making processes, and insist that people be involved.
  • Own your mistakes, seek feedback, and make amends.

Whether power is bestowed on us by the trust of others or by added responsibility, it’s critical that we stay conscious and alert to the warning signs of when power can blind us in our ultimate accountability to be a leader with strong character.

How Do You Know If You Are Drunk On Power?

In 2020, Michelle Gibbings, from LEADERONOMICS, wrote a great article entitled, Four Warning Signs That You Are Drunk On Power. https://lnkd.in/gs5kSAZh.

Gibbings lists four warning signs:

  1. The leader thinks their rights and needs outweigh those of others and so their decision making is all about what works best for them.
  2. The leader stops listening to the ideas and opinions of others, believing that their knowledge and insights hold more weight and value than others.
  3. They ignore feedback from people seeing it as unhelpful and irrelevant, rather than reflecting on what is driving the feedback and what they may want to adjust to be more effective.
  4. They believe they are smarter than others and have little more to learn, and so they stop seeking out new ideas and diversity of thought.

What I’ve learned from the best leaders over the years is that titles don’t give you greater power. What they give you is greater accountability.

Canadian leadership team from Doka

Earlier this month, I had the extreme pleasure of spending some time with the Canadian leadership team from Doka, an amazing company with incredible leaders from around the world.

I had a wonderful experience for three inspiring days as they demonstrated passion, accountability, authenticity, and a high level of engagement.

ACCOUNTABILITY: It’s Not About Criticism. It’s About Clarity

In my role of board chair in a non-profit organization I’ve felt some strain the past few weeks. I’ve imagined that the executive director is unhappy with the board and am wondering whether we’re best serving this organization. An incredible board member who has been the glue holding the organization together since it’s inception is stepping down now that her tenure is up. I’ve been questioning if I’m able to fill her shoes. It’s stressful when you are unsure if you are meeting the expectations of the people who depend on you.

What I’m going to do this week is meet with the executive director and ask for help. We are going to discuss and negotiate what we expect from each other and how to best support each other. We will clarify how we define success in this organization, our agreements with each other, how to measure expected results, and what to do if either of us inadvertently gets off track. In short, we’re going to reset the compass of our relationship.

What we’re going to do is be accountable to each other. It’s not about blame or accusations or fault-finding or finger-pointing. It’s about ownership and clear agreements.

Accountability lies at the foundation of every good relationship. It’s meant to foster trust, decrease stress, build fulfilling connections, and get a grip on results that matter.

Be the leader you’ve been searching for. Why not you? Why not now?

It’s easy to complain about a lack of leadership – in our workplace, the community where we live, or our country. It’s easier to sit in the stands and criticize than to be a player on the ice.

Complaining is a way to keep ourselves safe so we don’t have to do the work required to change. It’s a defense against having the courage to change ourselves. That’s why the ratio of complainers to players is about 1000:1.

We institutionally deny the fact that we are actually creating the culture and the leadership we are complaining about. Deciding that you are co-creating what you are criticizing and therefore you can step into changing it, is the ultimate act of accountability.

Rather than complaining, clearly define the kind of leader you have been searching for. Make a list of the qualities you would like to see in a leader. Describe the virtues of the leader you want – in your life, at work, in your community, or in your country.

Now go to work and be that kind of leader – in your life, in your work, in your community, and in your country.

Let bad leadership inspire you, not discourage you.

Why not you? Why not now?

The Power of Accountability Partners

For the past forty years, I’ve been helping people make changes in their life. Rarely, if ever, do I see lasting change without support and some accountability from others. It’s just too easy to drift back to familiar patterns and habits when we attempt to make changes on our own.

Years ago I came across the notion of Accountability Partners. After every seminar, I have everyone choose an Accountability Partner before getting back into the demands of their lives.

There are five criteria for an effective Accountability Partner:

  1. They are committed to supporting you to grow and change in a way that is right for you. They have no hidden agenda.
  2. You choose them. Like a good mentor that you reach out to, you have to decide who the right person is to work with.
  3. An effective accountability process involves clearly defined agreements: What do you agree to in the relationship? What are you committed to change? What does support and accountability look like in this relationship to ensure the needed change?
  4. Accountability Partners help hold you accountable in a way that supports your growth and change, whatever way you define that to be.
  5. There must be mutual benefit. As you define the expectations and parameters of the Accountability Partner relationship, be sure to be explicit about the value each person is getting from the relationship.

I’d love to hear what your experience is working with Accountability Partners.