“So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.” — Romans 14:12
Super Bowl-winning coach Tony Dungy is a quiet man. His self-titled book “Quiet Strength” quickly became a New York Times bestseller as the coach outlined his philosophy on winning and life from a Christian perspective. Famous for remaining calm, thoughtful and caring in the face of adversity — while most of his counterparts displayed a more fiery and colorful demeanor — there is only one publicly recorded instance of Coach Dungy becoming frustrated.
On a hot, August afternoon in Tampa, the new head coach and his team, the Buccaneers, were signing autographs at fan appreciation day. The players and coaching staff were spread around the field signing while fans crowded down to the box seats. It came to Tony’s attention that many of the veteran players had gone off to the air-conditioned locker room part way through the signing, perfectly glad to allow the rookies to continue signing for the fans in the heat. Though typically congressional in style, Tony jumped onto the public address system and announced that if every player was not on the field signing for the fans, there would be some new players on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the next day!
Coach Dungy values accountability, and for good reason. The Navy Seals grade trust and accountability even higher than physical ability for the special forces team. The same can be said of Yogi Berra, the Yankee captain who won 10 World Series in the late 1940s to the early 1960s. An agreeable man, Berra had one requirement for his teammates and, later, players he managed: Never be late.
Most organizations understand this importance of accountability, hence end-of-year reviews, audits, check-ins and the like. However, accountability should go far beyond formal and infrequent channels. Servant leaders see and hold value in building accountability into a daily culture.
Accountability is not hostility. Oftentimes accountability is viewed as something that has to be done stylistically through being tough or intimidating. A culture of accountability, though, has nothing to do with style. Accountability can be held at all levels of a team by having open and honest conversation. While conversation and relationship does require the investment of time, the benefits are invaluable. Conversations build trust.
Accountability is not only the world’s idea, but one of Jesus’. Accountability inherently assumes involving others toward a common goal, something Jesus always modeled. Whether through the 12 disciples or teaching the crowds, Jesus used a model of discipleship and accountability.
Even in reference to Himself, the One who needed none, Jesus declared the “Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve,” and declared Himself accountable to the will of His Father (Matthew 20:28). Jesus’ accountability to the Father is reiterated in the Book of John: “So Jesus said to them, ‘When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me” (John 8:28, ESV). Jesus was totally submitted to God’s will and the delegated authority in His life. This attitude is one of the ways accountability is expressed in our lives.
As servant leaders, a culture of accountability is life giving!
— Kyle C. Nyce
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