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Accountability: The Spine of Leadership


Leadership is a multidimensional dynamic that covers a vast aggregate of elements. Accountability is just one of these many elements. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines accountability as “The quality or state of being accountable especially an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one's actions.”

I define accountability as:

An intentional willingness to be vulnerable about your motives, actions and responsibilities and a prompt willingness to accept the consequence thereof.

Types of Accountability

  1. VERTICAL ACCOUNTABILITY: This is accountability to a higher authority . This is invariably being accountable to God, a spiritual or leadership authority. In this accountability, the emphasis is on who are rather than on what you do. The process of becoming is the concentration here. Another dimension of the vertical accountability is one in which the top is accountable to the bottom. This second dimension is almost a lost art as we live in a world where leaders feel they can run riot and treat their responsibilities with reckless abandon.

  2. HORIZONTAL ACCOUNTABILITY: This is being accountable to a peer or someone on a level similar to yours, slightly higher or lower. This is the kind of accountability seen among co-leaders or followers on a particular level of the leadership stratum. Here your actions are on trial. Your peers watch your performance and keep you accountable to the standards.

  3. PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY: From my perspective, this is the most important dimension of accountability. This is your personal 'check-system'. This is the monitor that guides you when no one is watching.

It is extremely necessary to have these three dimensions of accountability operating in your life. One dimension will not do, neither will two. To be a well-rounded leader, these three dimensions of accountability must be functional in your life.


What does accountability mean to you? What are the advantages of accountability? Share your thoughts with me.

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