Accountability Heroes & Zeros of 2016

Back by popular demand!  It’s time for our annual Accountability Heroes and Zeros list!  That time of year where we look back on 2016, who was accountable and who wasn’t?  Who provided leadership in a way that sets a good example for others and who didn’t?

Accountability Zeros of 2016

If we asked you to list a few Accountability Zeros from 2016 I think we know who would be top of your list.    It might be either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton or both.   Whether you are from the United States or outside of America the debacle that was our election year was unprecedented. Many of us were surprised by the actions of many of our supposed political leaders.  Their lack of decorum and statesmanship towards each other sank to an all-time low.  We keep thinking about that long line of nominees in the first GOP debate.  Some were condescending, using snarky comebacks and name-calling, and this set the tone for what was to follow in both parties – it was like grade school all over again!  Needless to say, their actions did not model people willing to be accountable for their own actions and behaviors. 

Accountability is something we tend to learn over time.  Sometimes we learn through our own mistakes and sometimes we can be fortunate to learn from someone else’s.  This year we have two that get the “Didn’t learn from the past” Awards.  One should have had an opportunity to learn from someone else’s misfortune.  Everyone is aware of what happened at Penn State University several years ago.  The leaders’ failure to handle Jerry Sandusky’s sexual molestation of children appropriately was a very costly lesson – both to the crime victims and the university.    Sadly it seems, not everyone was paying attention.

This year it came to light that Baylor University continuously showed a disregard for accusations of sexual assault against its own female students.  Leaders were aware that players were a threat to the campus and took no action.  In some cases they did not investigate the female students’ accusations for up to 2 years thereby allowing the accused football players to continue playing on Baylor’s winning football team.  Only after an independent external investigation into the university’s handling of alleged incidents did those accountable lose their positions. Not what we would expect from any university, much less a Christian one.

Our second award for not learning from past mistakes goes to Anthony Weiner – who can’t seem to resist texting pictures of his privates even though we thought he learned his lesson years ago.  There should be a special category for a guy named Weiner with this texting issue.  I think next year we may have a category called the Weiner Wiener Winner.

Another company that had some issues with accountability this year was Wells Fargo.   Employees opened over 2 million bank accounts or credit cards without authorization from their customers.  It was alleged that Wells Fargo management was supportive of the employees’ actions and created a high pressure culture where it was ok to defraud customers. When 5300 employees were terminated while management received bonuses there was a huge outcry.  After pressure from the House Financial Services Committee investigations it was announced that CEO and Chairman, John G. Stumpf would retire.  Sadly the 5300 employees were not allowed to “retire”.

This list wouldn’t be complete without Ryan Lochte.  The Olympic swimmer who, while in Rio, made up the story about being robbed at gunpoint when in actuality he was involved in vandalizing a gas station.  Hopefully his embarrassment and loss of endorsements has taught him and others a huge lesson.

Accountability Heroes of 2016

This year we’ve decided to do something different.  We are going to award the Unsung Heroes.  Those who are willing to do the right thing – in other words, be accountable regardless of how difficult it is to do.   The actions of the unsung heroes demand strength of character and unequalled courage.  Being accountable oftentimes requires going against the crowd.   So here’s to the teacher that refused to pass a student that didn’t make the grades – despite student and parent protests.  Here’s to the CEO who fired a senior manager for violating the core values of the company despite the fact that that employee contributed handily to the bottom line of the business, and was considered indispensable.  Here’s to the parents who applied consequences to their children when they disobeyed, so that they may hopefully grow into accountable adults.  Here’s to the police chief who fired the officer who tweeted racial slurs.  Here’s to the HR manager who stood her ground with a senior leader who thought he was above the rules.  Here’s to the volunteer that was willing do what was needed to be done to get the organization back on track.  Cheers to them all for helping make the world we live in a more accountable place to live.

Can you think of any unsung heroes in your midst?  We can honestly say that we see them every day.  Just look around.  When you see one, please take the time to congratulate him or her.  After all, it would be nice to encourage the ones being a role model for others – we could use a lot more of them!