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Accountability: The Key Component in the Leader Follower Relationship



the action of leading a group of people or an organization.

“different styles of leadership”



the fact or condition of being accountable; responsibility

My journey as a leader has not been a smooth ride. My journey as a follower is filled even more with pot holes, and even the occasional detour. I continually “reroute” as I gain successes or failures. In this journey as I expose myself to endless methods, teaching, and experiences I have found a few things. One the most important thing but before I get into that lets make a few things clear about leadership.

Leadership is dirty! Its not clean there is no one size fits all approach, one approach will not work for all that you lead. Any leadership guru telling you that they have it “all figured out” is more likely looking to lead you to clicking on their website or buying whatever merchandise they are selling.

NO LEADER IS PERFECT! It is impossible to put a standard of perfection involving anything with a human element. Leaders especially authentic ones make mistakes, they say the wrong thing, they don’t handle the situation perfect every time, and sometimes they alienate people. It is not intentional; it is a by product of being emotionally invested in whatever process or profession they are engaged in.

Those afore mentioned things are critical to understand when talking leadership, however the key to Leadership and Followership is one key word


Most followers complain about leaders, or crave “authentic” leadership. They say these things at the kitchen table and around other firefighters. What they fail to realize is with that leadership comes accountability on their part! If you want to receive leadership then you are going to be held accountable for the standard that has been set, and when you violate that standard. THAT’S REAL LEADERSHIP! Leadership with out accountability from the followers amounts to little more than a pep talk. Most I encounter want the “Burger King” model of leadership. They want it their way, and when they want it. If you are not willing to give it to them in that way then they assume you are not a good leader

One of my favorite quotes on leadership is from the Movie “The American President” starring Michael Douglas. In this scene his opponent is running a “smear campaign” and Michael Douglas’s character will not engage in that action. Michael J. Fox’s character does not like that and they engage in this sequence of dialog.

 Lewis Rothschild [in the Oval Office]  You have a deeper love of this country than any man I’ve ever known. And I want to know what it says to you that in the past seven weeks, 59% of Americans have begun to question your patriotism.

President Andrew Shepherd Look, if the people want to listen to…

Lewis Rothschild They don’t have a choice! Bob Rumson is the only one doing the talking! People want leadership, Mr. President, and in the absence of genuine leadership, they’ll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They’re so thirsty for it they’ll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there’s no water, they’ll drink the sand.

President Andrew Shepherd Lewis, we’ve had presidents who were beloved, who couldn’t find a coherent sentence with two hands and a flashlight. People don’t drink the sand because they’re thirsty. They drink the sand because they don’t know the difference.

This defines leadership in today’s fire service. People are not drinking the sand because they lack leaders, they are drinking the sand because they don’t know the difference. In my opinion they do not know the difference because of the lack of accountability on their part.

The real leaders are here, they are hungry and they are ready to lead, they are ready for you to hold them accountable for your development, are you ready to be held accountable to them?

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