Accountability in Leadership
SGT Jeremiah Hendry
Accountability is the cornerstone of an effective organization. It begins with the individual, whether a soldier, a civilian, employee, manager, supervisor, CEO, or General Officer. I want to first look at the definition of accountability, its impact on leadership in all walks of life, both civilian and military, and finally, how to implement effective accountability in a organization. Let's first look at the meaning of the word accountability both in its root definition, and current usage . The DoD defines it as “The obligation imposed by laws or lawful order or regulation on an officer or other person for keeping accurate record of property, documents, or funds. The person having this obligation may or may not have actual possession of the property, documents, or funds. Accountability is concerned primarily with records, while responsibility is concerned primarily with custody, care, and safekeeping.” But on closer look, a simple dictionary defines it as “
According to the Collins World English Dictionary Responsibility is: “1. the state or position of being responsible 2. a person or thing for which one is responsible 3. the ability or authority to act or decide on one's own, without supervision.” Traditionally, leaders and other command elites have not seen themselves accountable as individuals. They were either above the law, as sovereign -- rex non potest peccare ("the King can do no wrong") -- or they had immunity just because they were leaders (immunity rationae materiae). Alternatively, they were considered mere representatives of a state or organization which, it was believed, carried the responsibility for any wrongdoings. Writing in 1915, historian R. Michels was not optimistic about change: "Historical evolution mocks all the preventive measures that have been adopted for the prevention of oligarchy. If laws are passed to control the dominion of...
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