Chapter 2 Take 200 per cent accountability

As long as a man stands in his own way, everything seems to be in his way.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

The story is told in ancient Buddhist literature of a pampered princess who was walking barefoot in her father's kingdom when she stepped on a thorn. In pain, she demanded of her father's advisers that the entire kingdom be carpeted. One adviser made her a pair of sandals and kindly encouraged her to wear them instead of carpeting the kingdom.

This simple story reveals a mentality that we all engage in to one extent or another. We yearn for a world of soft carpet and no thorns. We operate under the unexamined belief that our conditions need to be okay for us to be okay. And in this belief, our mindfulness and our happiness become as fragile as a princess's delicate feet.

This mindset is also at odds with the accountability needed for great leadership. Our ‘carpet' becomes our team, our customers, our boss, the economy, and we avoid facing ourselves. We fail to put on the sandals of accountability. ‘I'll start leading more effectively when x changes,' x very rarely being the individual themselves.

In the past few years my team and I have had the privilege of guiding thousands of leaders through live leadership feedback sessions with their team. The feedback is about their leadership, not the team's performance. We also use a 360-degree report to support the feedback process.

Fascinatingly, about 90 per cent of the leaders we work with immediately ...

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