Accountability and Transparency
When it comes to leadership and the exercise of power, there are two essential qualifiers for authentic institutional responsibility. First, accountability. Yes, it is true that we cannot lead if we do not have power; we cannot be responsible for an outcome or a performance indicator if we do not have the leverage point to do what needs to be done. But, all power, all leadership actions, must be exercised with real accountability.
Everyone should be able to answer two questions. First, to whom am I accountable for the quality and character of my work? That is, who is the person or what is the entity to which I “report”. Who or what body [i.e. a board] reviews my work and determines if it is acceptable work? And then calls to account or calls for a revision or adjustment so that I am more effective in my work?
Second, is this real accountability? That is, it has to be a genuinely functional and effective accountability that actually makes a difference. A pastor cannot be accountable, for example, to a congregation. It will not be a functional accountability. A congregation, as a whole, has no mechanism by which to provide any kind of real accountability. Yes, a pastor could report to a board; that is a start. But even then, this is only a genuine accountability if the board hold the pastor accountable for the quality of the work being done and that this accountability is to measures to which both the pastor and the board have agreed.
Then also, we need to speak of transparency. Effective leaders should be transparent in the exercise of their authority; someone can look in and review the rationale for the decisions made. No, this does not mean that everyone knows every decision we have made and why; but, someone needs to be able to ask the question. A pastor, for example, should be able to tell the board chair why this or that decision has been made.
When there is no accountability and no transparency, we have tyranny. And it is absolutely not acceptable to say “trust me”. Trust is built through a pattern of accountability and transparency.