How To Lead With Example

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Here are seven personal accountability qualities for leaders

No one will ever own your victories but you. The flip side is that no one else owns your blunders, either. Famed San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young threw 202 interceptions in his career. That’s 202 mistakes and 202 opportunities to blame his teammates, but it’s widely known that Young never did. Instead, he took responsibility for the games’ outcomes — win or lose.

It’s easy to blame other people or circumstances for shortcomings, but doing that strips you of your power and abilities. By owning your circumstances, visualizing your goals and changing when needed, you’ll find that success is yours for the taking. These seven traits are vital to accountability in becoming a champion leader.

Show love by helping others

When you are genuine about helping others, you show that their concerns are greater than your own. Become the leader your staff knows they can turn to for compassion, support and some tough love when they need it.

One of the best ways to win the hearts of your employees, or anyone for that matter, is to listen to them. You cannot learn anything if you’re always the one talking. Provide proof that you are listening by summing up what you gleaned from the other person’s words. That shows, one, you were paying attention, and two, it gives your colleague an opening to politely correct you if you misunderstood something. As you may have experienced yourself, it can be frustrating to share feedback with someone and never get indication that the person was listening to you.

Display honesty and transparency

Many times, people pay a lot more attention to how you make them feel than the actual words that come from your mouth. Strive to speak to your colleagues with authenticity and a recognition that you’re all on the same team, working toward the same goal. Of course, you should also watch how you word things, but being authentic is more important. You are gaining trust with your employees when you aren’t hiding anything from them.

Show humility and the will to apologize

Don’t let your ego get in the way of building strong relationships with others. Exhibiting humility shows your respect for the other person. You will not do everything perfectly or always know all the answers, but admitting this goes a long way with your team. It means you are willing to listen to other perspectives and shift your thinking or plans accordingly. It also means that when your team members mess up, they won’t be afraid to let you know so you can figure out a solution together.

Be proactive in preventing problems

A great leader knows how to recognize a small problem before it becomes a bigger one and takes action to prevent it from happening in the first place. Don’t look the other way when you see an issue brewing. Be willing to give others constructive criticism. But always do this in the privacy of a one-on-one conversation with an employee — not in front of the whole team. All that does is embarrass your staff member, which does nothing to get your point across.

Accept blame for your actions

Much like not finding excuses for your wrongdoings, do not hesitate to take the hit when you know you are wrong. Own up to when you’ve gotten angry or brushed off an important matter. It goes a long way with your employees when they see their leader take responsibility for their own actions.

Do what you say you will do

One of the most important qualities you can bring to your team is integrity. Keep appointments. Show you value other people’s time. Following through on commitments is critical. When you do this, you will see your team take the same regard you do in following through.

Return communication, including phone calls, texts and email

When you ignore someone’s request for information, it is subtly telling that person you don’t really care about their needs, whether you meant to or not. A straightforward way to be respectful is to address any correspondence in a timely manner. However, we all also have the right to set professional boundaries to honor our time and safeguard our work-life balance. So it’s fine if you prefer to not reply to emails during weeknights or on the weekends — just be sure you clearly state this expectation to your team. That helps them, because they won’t feel the need to burn themselves out after hours. When your team sees you living up to these standards, they will be inspired to improve themselves and perform better.

Your personal accountability is the best way to get a negative workplace back on track to positivity and winning. Implement these champion characteristics and see how the energy improves quickly at your organization.

Hernani Alves is a bestselling author from Sacramento and an international speaker who helps leaders build high-performing, loyal teams. Read more at or

Hernani Alves


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