To Whom Are You Accountable?

It seems like such a simple question doesn't it: to whom are you accountable?

And while your immediate and most proximate accountability might indeed be simple to name, each of us has layers of accountability that are more complex.

I've been thinking a lot about accountability lately given the seeming inability of our elected officials in Washington to make decisions, as well as the criticism that the president often receives from individuals who feel he isn't progressive enough.  Is an elected official only accountable to those that voted for her?  Is the president only accountable to the positions and principles of his party?  Is there an accountability difference between the opinions you voice and the votes you cast?

When we talk about accountability,  it seems we most mean direct and obvious accountability.  Yet indirect accountability also merits attention.
  • When one politician exercises very poor judgment, it reflects not just on him, but potentially on the entire institution of government.  
  • When one homeowner fails to maintain the exterior of his home and yard, it quite possibly casts aspersions on the overall block or neighborhood in the eyes of a potential buyer.  
  • When one company is found to have engaged in deceptive sales practices, it can make consumers more suspicious of all corporations.  
  • When one association's leaders act irresponsibly it can call into question the very nature of nonprofit organizations.
We use policies, rules, and laws to mandate accountability. While some of that is undoubtedly necessary, I think we'd get more of the behaviors we desire if we simply talked more about accountability and on whom our behavior reflects.

To whom are you accountable and are you able to account for the beliefs you express, the decisions you make, and the actions you take?

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