Accountability breeds response ability

I came across this video which some of you may have watched or at least have read about - the Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s dispute with his siblings over his 38 Oxley Road house. This dispute led to a bit of public mudslinging, when the Prime Minister’s siblings released a statement questioning their brother’s leadership. The Prime Minister was quick to react to these allegations and released a video apology expressing regret and apologizing to his fellow citizens for the negative impact this personal feud had on Singapore’s reputation.

The Prime Minister not only responded to his sibling’s allegations but he did it with integrity, humility and responsibly. He accepted that there was an issue, apologized for the inconvenience caused to his fellow countrymen, he committed to deliver a ministerial statement to refute the charges when Parliament sits on 3 July 2017 and urged all members of parliament to “raise questions for themselves and their constituents”, and urged them to “examine this issue thoroughly”, thereby offering a platform to clear any speculations related to this episode and hence winning the trust and confidence of his people.

This incident also made me think, how often we do such a thing when faced with an unavoidable/embarrassing situation. We have often seen kids play the blame game, the minute they do something they could get grounded for, they look for someone to blame it on and escape the punishment or divert the attention towards somebody /something else.

What’s pretty amusing is that very often do we see adults do the same too. I see this happen every day all around me. For e.g. at work if I ask someone why a task wasn’t completed within the deadline, before the blink of an eyelid the fingers are pointed towards someone else. In such a situation, the buck is passed on from one person to another and the situation just keeps getting murkier with no positive outcome. Why do we find it so difficult to be accountable for our own actions? Why can’t we take ownership? Why do we always look for a scapegoat to point fingers at?

I feel that a lot of it comes from what we see around us. We live in a country where we see everyone point fingers at each other. Our newspapers & news channels are flooded with political leaders, government officials, leaders, citizens pointing fingers and blaming each other constantly for many problems around us. Rarely is someone willing to accept responsibility or take ownership or work towards a solution, instead they choose to complain and play the blame game and this cycle of blaming continues along with the problems.

We need leaders who will set an example like in the case of Ex- Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, who resigned after a series of controversies rocked the company and he was asked to step down and he did so with integrity, knowing it would benefit the company.

The episode that was the first trigger for his exit was Susan Fowler's blog post that went viral. He handled this negative publicity very sensibly. In response to Fowler’s blog post; Kalanick did not brush away allegations or try and say that he wouldn’t comment till the allegations were proven. Instead, he tweeted: "What's described here is abhorrent & against everything we believe in. Anyone who behaves this way or thinks this is OK will be fired."

He admitted and apologized and offered to take severe actions against the culprits.

What’s common between Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Ex Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is that as leaders they showed accountability through their ability to accept responsibility before they could point fingers and blame someone else for it. As leaders, we need to be more like them. We need to set aside our ego and learn to accept our shortcomings and then take responsibility to work on them.

This article is only a flushing out, of my thoughts and learning from these recent developments. There are no insinuations to anyone or stoking nationalistic fervour. It would be great to hear critical or positive views.

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