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One of the Most Imp. Leadership Characteristics:
What Every Executive Ought to Be Good At...

Out of all the leadership characteristics that are key to success, this one lands at the top of the list as most important: Personal Accountability. 

Based on studies and research conducted by my Assessment Partner: TTI International, 98% of 6,800+ position hiring organization benchmarks Personal Accountability is listed as one of the top 7 personal skills required for superior performance.

leadership characteristics - personal accountability

"Accepting full responsibility for every little thing in your life,
Friend, is what opens the floodgates to joy and power.
Or to what we here call 'joypower.' Every little thing,"
  The Universe

It's empowering and freeing to 'own up' to all the good you've created AND all the issues. No covering up and no defensiveness leads to faster forward movement. Helping you and others move from a focus on the problem, to generating solutions.

If you're good at this the people you work with will more than likely trust your intentions and model your behavior. They'll tend to own up more quickly when things go awry, and will also feel free to celebrate when things go well.

We Cannot Stand It When People Don't "Own" Up: United Hates Guitars - Viral Video

As a culture, we cannot stand it when people don't 'own up' to the things they've done wrong. We HATE this so much, we often retaliate.

That's exactly what a little-known (and now famous) band, Sons of Maxwell, did when United Airlines leaders failed in this most important of leadership characteristics area...

Here's real life example where 11 million people watched this very entertaining viral video created by the Band when United did not take responsibility for their actions. This story has been covered in the New York Times, on CBS News, won the group Digital Artist of the Year award and was as one of the top videos on all of YouTube, and a nightmare for United!

According to a blog written by The Economist, this incident cost United Airlines10 percent of share value or about $180 million!

I wonder why it took so long for the company to take responsibility. Earlier, would have been better. Does their slow response reflect a culture of leaders who probably score low in the "taking responsibility for your actions/personal accountability" area? Uhhhh...I would say most likely, yes!

I wonder if the leaders of United are now trying to change a culture that was lacking this key leadership characteristic.

The Viral Video is a good indication that it is totally true - we CANNOT STAND IT when executives, people or ANYONE shirk their responsibility. 

So, What About You? 

leadership characteristics - personal accountability

So what about you? Since this skill is truly as one of the top leadership characteristics, important to the bottom-line and your success in EVERY way,  how high would you rate yourself on a scale 1 - 5 on this Statement? 

"I take responsibility for my
achievements AND my errors."

(1 = Low and 5 = Perfect)

But, how do you really know if you're not strong in this most important of all leadership characteristics? 

I've noticed, maybe you've seen it too - People who ace the leadership characteristics of taking personal responsibility and celebrating success, often believe they need to improve.  And, people who aren't very good at taking responsibility, often think they're strong!

I call this having blind spots, which are strengths and weaknesses others can see, that we don't. That's why they're called blind spots! (BTW, we ALL have blind spots!)

To better measure your strengths and development opportunities in this area, use this complimentary online quiz I created:

     Measuring My Celebrating Success &
Taking Responsibility Quotient Quiz, Now:

  (You'll get your results immediately upon completing the Quiz)

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What Low and High Personal Accountability Looks Like - Sometimes We're Unaware...

Did you take the quiz?  For even more insight you can also consider asking others to rate you in the leadership characteristics and behaviors covered in the Quiz.  Their perceptions and feedback may reveal blind spots - strengths and issues - you don't even realize.

leadership characteristics - Bill Brooks

Bill Brooks (1945-2007) was a powerful speaker, author, business owner and leader who had a very positive influence on me. Bill revealed in a training class, after he'd reviewed his own leadership characteristics Assessment Results, the following:  (Note: I am paraphrasing his comments.)
"How can this Assessment say I'm lower in Personal Accountability? I'm a go-getter. I get things done! I think I ALWAYS take responsibility!"


He shared that someone close to him, heard him, took him aside and shared, "Bill you ARE great - but you're NOT strong in Personal Accountability. Think about it - when something's late or not done right, what do you usually say?"   Bill laughed. "Okay, you're right. I don't take responsibility for everything that happens. I guess I could get stronger in this area..."

Bill was a dynamo. Loved by many.  He was an excellent leader who found he might want tp build his own leadership characteristics, to become an even greater leader, by improving in this area. Can you relate? Are you blaming others more than you think?

Examples of Low and High...

leadership characteristics cartoon

Have you ever:

  • Blamed traffic/truck drivers/slow drivers for being late to an appointment?
  • Blamed your hectic schedule for the reason you've put on a couple of pounds?
  • Blamed your spouse for your bad day?

People who always take responsibility, on the other hand, would have handled these same situations like this:

  • Admitted that they should have left a few minutes earlier for their appointment.
  • Acknowledged that, while being stressed because of a busy time, they've been skipping the gym and eating junk food more often.
  • Accepted that no one is to blame for their bad day, other than themselves.

Most us can improve in this area. Being strong here is one of the best stress relievers and leadership characteristics, because to have high personal accountability it to fully realize and own the fact that we create, and are responsible for, our own reality. 

And I believe this viewpoint is so much more empowering than being or feeling victim to others or circumstances. That's because we can control our responses and actions. We cannot however, control others - at least not for very long.

Building These Leadership Characteristics:
Taking Responsibility Workbook

taking responsibility leadership characteristics article

Download this free workbook and worksheets here. (Opens a new window.)

Here's what you get in this Complimentary Workbook:

  • Specifics @ what strength in this area looks like.
  • Four practical, actionable self development exercises with worksheets for tracking progress.
  • Specific actions for improvement in this area.
  • Additional development resource links

As you are putting the exercises to work from the free workbook, try this affirmation:
"I am responsible for all of my thoughts, feelings, actions and reactions to all situations."

Wrap Up: Your Comments & More About This Topic...

Do you now count Personal Accountability as one of the top Leadership Characteristics for success?  And if so, how will you continue to build your strength here?   How will you implement the ideas and exercises in the Workbook?  Share your thoughts BELOW and read what others have shared about this Skill. 

Additional Resource #1: To read another Post about this Skill, check out: The Six Best Interview Questions EVERY Hiring Manager Should Ask EVERY Candidate, where I share interview questions that help you determine if someone you're hiring someone who has high Personal Accountability.   Read that Post, here.

Additional Resource #2:  Get 120 Daily FREE Email Action Tips for Developing This Area. For more information go to my: 120 Re-Calibrate Daily Tips Sign Up Page

Share Here...


Share your thoughts here...

What Other Wake Up Eager
Community Members Shared:

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

Like a Balanced Teeter Totter Not rated yet
So many great thought leaders on this page! Choice and responsibility must balance. The more choices we get the more responsibility we must take. It …

Easier to Abdicate Responsibility and Complain Not rated yet
This is a great topic! Responsibility for our actions is absolutely critical to a career and in all facets of life. All to often I hear people bemoan their …

Truth Will Always Show... Not rated yet
Excellent assessment tools and information. Thank you for sharing this with us. Integrity, honor (honesty) and responsibility are essential to long-term …

This Is More Important Than Integrity - It's... Not rated yet
The ability of a person to take real responsibility is directly related to the integrity they demonstrate which is a reflection of their character. …

Suggestion: Invent an "I CARE" Meter Not rated yet
t would be nice if someone would invent an "I CARE" meter that we could attach to prospective new employees. Taking personal responsibility starts with …

A Sports Example - At All Comes Down to Leadership Not rated yet
Yes, good input Doug. I'm back just because I have another example from my former sports participation. I had 2 coaches in high school. Basketball and …

My Accountability and Integrity are My Net Worth Not rated yet
Great topic, Suzie! In my opinion, personal responsibility is everything. For me, my accountability and integrity is my net worth. At the end of the day, …

Showing Inner Strength and Resilience Not rated yet
I agree. In my opinion, taking personal responsibility for your actions is essential for someone in a leadership role. Not only does it show your employees …

Avatar Training Worked for Me Not rated yet
For me it was simple. I took the Avatar Course in 1993 and learned how to take responsibility for my thoughts and beliefs as well as my actions. Since …

This Is the Place of True Strength Not rated yet
I think one of the most important qualities of a good leader is humility. At the core of our essential nature, we are humble. When we are humble in …

Who Would Follow You? Not rated yet
Well I think it is pretty simple. Integrity and dignity. If you don't take responsibility for your mistakes then no one will respect you. You probably …

There's a Big Shift Emerging... Not rated yet
To take personal responsibility is to actually take control of a situation rather than allowing oneself to be a victim or martyr. There is a big shift …

Doesn't Always Have to Be Public Not rated yet
Whenever I've coached anyone on this topic, they usually end up agreeing that it is the right thing to do. We can take responsibility in many ways - and …

Being Responsible Does Not Always Mean You're to Blame Not rated yet
Great topic! I think that this is one of the hardest lessons that we have to learn in life. Being responsible does not always mean that you are to …

My Number One Tip Is... Not rated yet
I agree that taking personal responsibility is one of the most crucial leadership characteristics and, unfortunately, is not as widespread as it should …

"IF I Offended Anyone..." Is NOT Taking Responsibility Not rated yet
Personal responsibility is one of the cornerstones to real leadership, if you define leadership as the ability to gain willing followers to a given course …

An Art to Not Be a Door Mat or a Phony Not rated yet
It is an "art" to be able to take personal responsibility for our actions without becoming a "doormat" (always taking blame) or a "phony" (claiming the …

The Rotarian 4-Way Test Not rated yet
As a Rotarian, I follow our 4-Way Test. In all things we say and do, 1. Is it the truth? 2. Is it fair to all concerned? 3. Will it build goodwill and …

My Personal Responsibility Guidelines Not rated yet
Without a doubt agree to "Taking personal responsibility for your actions is crucial to success in any career, esp. leadership." In a leadership role, …

It's Really Up To Me Not rated yet
Susie, I could not agree with you more. We are all responsible for our own actions, and my definition of "growing up" is to take responsibility for your …

To Thine Own Self Be True - FIRST Not rated yet
Interesting. I once worked for a company that "claimed" to have this philosophy. The truth was that they applied it only OUTWARDLY and held the employees …

Out of Favor, But Making a Comeback Not rated yet
Hi Teddi, What a wise Mother! I've not heard that one before I like it! I think Ethics in general have been out of favor especially in the latter half …

Rarely Looking Anywhere Else Not rated yet
1. Buy a small mirror and just before you sharpen your real or metaphorical finger to attribute blame, check the mirror first! 2. Recognize the 3 choices. …

My Mom Told Me Not rated yet
My mom told me that when I had my finger pointing at someone else, there were 3 fingers pointing back at me. Responsibility is a character trait that …

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Not a Failure Until You Blame Someone Else... Not rated yet
Hi Suzie, love the link and am now following you on Twitter as well! I totally agree. My father used to say, "No one is a failure, until they blame …

Napoleon Hills Attributes of Leadership Not rated yet
I totally agree that to be a succeed and/or be a leader you have to embrace taking full responsibility for your actions! The following is Napoleon Hill's …

Can Be Fatal Not rated yet
I believe improvement comes in two ways: 1 - managers are responsible for holding their employees accountable for deadlines and promised work. If deadlines …

100% Me, 0% Outside Not rated yet
One must take personal responsibility for their life... I learned this by being a student of Responsibility Centered Leadership(www.rcl-inc.com) and further …

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