Big Questions

What can accountability look like in leadership?

Posted December 20, 2023

by Destiny Dickerson

A group of women praying over one another. Photo by Rosie Sun for Unsplash

Accountability affects every aspect of life, especially leadership. When viewing accountability from a Christian perspective, leaders must act with their personal and biblical values aligned. Ensuring Christ is in those values shapes an individual’s leadership accountability.

Anne Shenk, co-director of the non-profit organization For Richmond, shares how accountability in leadership is central to serving one’s community.

“A humble leader pursues those accountability measures and vulnerability because being honest about our struggles can be difficult,” Shenk said in an interview with Koinesúnē Magazine. “It requires vulnerability to be transparent and lay those things out before others and ask for help.”

Accountability is essential for good leadership and ensures that your team works towards a common goal and follows through with their commitments, according to PepTalk.

For Richmond was formed because these church leaders were desiring not just to lead their churches but to love and serve their city together,” Shenk said.

With accountability structures in place, For Richmond can accomplish this mission and minister to the city of Richmond with their shared values.

“We have initiatives around racial healing, public schools and foster care,” Shenk said, “We also do work of uniting the church in prayer and responding together in crisis.”

The scripture advises that leaders or individuals seek guidance from others. Psalm 32:8 says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.”

A Christian worldview of accountability in leadership emphasizes the importance of having guidance as a leader, ensuring those leadership values align with biblical values, and cultivating a commitment beyond personal beliefs.

For Richmond works to unite churches for the flourishing and transformation of our city,” Shenk said. “The leaders that we work with have a heart of unity and collaboration.”

Having the proper guidance can lead to a successful, healthy leadership position. Leaders who educate themselves and form relationships with members of their community are more successful in their service, Shenk said.

“We create opportunities for pastors to come together and learn about the issues facing our communities,” Shenk said.

As leaders seek to hold themselves more accountable in the pursuit of leadership, they must build healthy relationships with other leaders to hold one another accountable.

“As one of the co-directors of the organization For Richmond, I want to have people in my life both formally and informally that hold me accountable,” Shenk said. “I hope our board would challenge me if they saw me sinning.”

Accountable leaders need to learn how to accept and receive criticism. They recognize that loyal advisors only want them to succeed.

“Going to someone one-on-one, raising the issue is always the first best course of action,” Shenk said. “If someone is unwilling to consider change, then bring in the other co-director or a board member to have that conversation.”

Lack of strong accountability in leadership can lead people astray, which is why it is important not only to have leadership values but also biblical ones.

Proverbs 29:2 says, “When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; When the wicked rule, the people groan.”

Photo by Diana Vargas for Unsplash

“When leaders have transparent goals, their teams can see what they are working toward,” according to Betterworks. “Communicating openly about goals also fosters team camaraderie and aligns everyone on shared objectives.”

Leaders with established accountability structures promote effective teamwork through clear responsibilities and open communication, ensuring a cohesive and accountable team dynamic.

“When looking at the scripture, we see encouragement to sharpen and challenge each other,” Shenk said.

The accountability process can be positive if leaders are willing to create change. Working on one’s accountability may start as a struggle. It will likely take more time if a leader is not used to being held accountable because they are not used to someone calling them out in such a way.

Matthew 12:36-37 says, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words, you will be condemned.”

Christ talks about how people are accountable for their words on judgment day. Words carry weight and significance.

“Repentance acknowledges our need for grace from God and other people,” Jimmy Scroggins wrote in an article for Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

Christ calls for a life of integrity, righteousness and accountability in every aspect of behavior. Repentance can be a valuable tool for individuals in positions of authority.

Proverbs 11:3 says, “The integrity of the upright guides them, but their duplicity destroys the unfaithful.”

Accepting and asking God for forgiveness means the individual is trying to make the necessary changes and corrections. Repentance prompts the recognition that embracing humility fosters a healthier form of leadership.

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The scripture talks about the act of forgiveness and renewal and the importance of it.

Acts 3:19 says, “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.”

Being a servant of Christ means focusing on the needs of others and taking responsibility. A servant of Christ strives to live according to God’s standards.

Leading by example allows people to admit their mistakes in the process and inspires them to change. It creates a culture to admit their wrongdoing, seek forgiveness from God and live a better life professionally and spiritually. These ways can contribute to a more sanctified and spiritual work environment.

Accountability in leadership goes beyond rules, policies and personal values. Leaders can see that their actions have consequences and try to take ownership of them. A biblical worldview of accountability shows the importance of aligning personal values with biblical principles.

Leadership is a partnership with God and the people that we serve. It is not just a one-person show but a relationship with God and allowing God to guide leaders.

In the end, accountability in leadership brings glory to God, not people.

“We are accountable for carrying out the mission God has given the organization, and if we’re not able to do that, then maybe somebody else should be in that position,” Shenk said. “We want to be good stewards.”

Being a good steward requires doing the work God entrusted us to do and having good accountability.

Accountable leaders can serve as a living testimony, inspiring future leaders to walk the same path. Ultimately, leaders should strive to lead in the way the Bible commands them to do and seek guidance from the best teacher, Christ.