Today I listened to a podcast put together by Michael Hyatt about the role of accountability to leadership. While I had always accepted the concept of leaders taking responsibility and being held accountable, a thought crossed my mind while listening. Throughout the last month there has been the usual onslaught of political advertising in all types of media. One of the most annoying things I find in the words of politicians in recent years is the constant use of “the royal we” when they are speaking about themselves. “Friends, we feel your pain.” is an example of something a politician might say. The reason I’ve been so annoyed is that the politician uses “we” constantly when they mean “I” and in general most politicians seem incredibly selfish and self-serving, so saying “we” instead of “I” also seems hypocritical.
Now here’s the connection with the accountability podcast. In this podcast, Michael Hyatt and Michele Cushatt discuss how important it is for a person to own his or her mistakes by using the pronoun “I” as an indicator that they truly are taking responsibility. “I made a mistake” is so much more responsible and accountable that saying “we made a mistake.” Whenever I hear a politician use the royal “we” now, all I can think about is that they are not accepting accountability or responsibility for their own actions. Even if their words have nothing to do with owning a problem, when a politician makes campaign promises using “we” that is a signal to me that they will never be accountable for making good on that promise. So, a new test for me to help decide if I will vote for a person for political office in the future will be whether or not they are willing to say “I feel your pain, and I will do something about it.”