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Why the Most Effective Leadership Starts With Personal Accountability

Nathan Brooks
4 min read
Why the Most Effective Leadership Starts With Personal Accountability

A few days ago, I was listing to Jocko Podcast, and Jocko was interviewing Peter Attia. Peter is a brilliant former surgeon trained at Johns Hopkins, who then went on to work at McKinsey & Co. as a member of the Corporate Risk Practice and Healthcare Practice (and then back to medicine). At McKinsey, he helped run financial models and eventually had the task of explaining to the bank they were working for the impending doom of the markets and the losses the bank would suffer from. They didn’t believe the models — and we know the downturn still happened, and the losses were even greater than they models had predicted. It’s a great interview and very well worth listing to the entire nearly three hours if that’s your thing.

One of the most interesting parts of the interview, I thought, was him speaking about some of the cases at Johns Hopkins that stuck out to him. Many of the stories and memories were about children or young people and the tragic situations they were dealing with. Peter went on to talk about how after surgery, despite doing everything possible to save the patient, he had the seemingly impossible task to speak with the parents and tell them they had lost their child.

In one particular story, he went on to talk about how many families that were already having marital, family, or financial struggles were blown apart by these kinds of tragedies. Conversely, the families that were tight, although still faced with a difficult and sad situation, became even tighter through them. Obviously, it goes without saying, Peter shared how he sympathized deeply with the family at the death or trauma of the patient. Personally, I don’t want to even imagine the pain or the strength required to rebuild your life after. The point is, the families couldn’t have prepared themselves for what they would have to deal with, but whatever had happened in the past within the family dramatically changed the outcome of the family after.

Now, you may be wondering how to turn this towards the real estate and business world, so let’s go there.

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It Starts With YOU

No matter what you are dealing with in work, life, family, or real estate, the microscope must first be turned towards YOU. To the point Peter was making, each member of those families had to do the work of being a part of the family. Each family needs the leadership and each person to help accomplish the work (mow the lawn, do the chores, get to baseball practice, do the homework, pay the bills). In order to have balance and contentment in the family, it means each person has to settle little disputes, let things go, forgive, learn and grow together, and then have family accountability. Is that really any different than the experience you have at work, running your business?

Related: The Simple Self-Help Exercise to Improve Leadership Skills & Business Acumen

At work, you might have to deal with a boss who isn’t the best leader or someone on staff who doesn’t seem to pull their weight or who isn’t the best at their given job. You have to first start with understanding your role on the team and then how that role affects everyone else there. Is the person not pulling their weight clear on what they are doing? Are they in the right seat to do their job in the first place? Is there something else going on in their home life that they keep bringing to work?

No matter what the situation is, having the personal awareness of what is going on is paramount. Then, you need to recognize what is happening within that context, address the necessary issues, and help fix them.

Take Ownership

In his book Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Winir?t=biggerpocke0a 20&l=am2&o=1&a=1250067057, Jocko Willink talks about decentralized command. In the military and on the battlefield, you have to know what the mission is and what your operational space is. Then, you have to take ownership YOURSELF of the task at hand to help carry out the mission. You first have to understand the mission and your role in it, as well as your operational space, to make decisions without the help of your commander directly.

Although in real estate we aren’t generally putting our lives on the line, we do have many battles to fight with accounting, contractors, GCs, other vendors, our own staff, our tenants, owners — it goes on and on. When you take ownership of your own position, you can help those around you to be stronger in their positions. If there is a handoff as a team you keep missing, take ownership to make sure that handoff is completely clear and is on time. If there are struggles leading a group of people on a project, help offer leadership by recognizing the people’s strength in the group. Don’t take charge in a domineering way, but help bring people up instead of putting them down.

Celebrate and Elevate

Here’s one thing not to do. Don’t gloat. And don’t keep the celebration and success for you personally. If the team wins, you tell them. You give them the glory. Remind the individuals and the team specifically of how they did a great job. “The handoff was TIGHT this time guys! Colors, renovation, and timeline were RIGHT on time and budget on this house! You CRUSHED IT!”

Related: The 3 Habits of a Highly Effective House Flipping Team Leader

If the team doesn’t win, think back first to yourself. How could you as the leader or team member have done a better job? Don’t complain. Don’t make excuses. And definitely don’t blame it on someone else. That won’t help anyone, and that certainly won’t make you a better individual or better team. You have to work together, define the challenges, and then figure out solutions to overcome them.


Final Thoughts

People want to be on a winning team, surrounded by people they like to work with and who work together. If you think back to the family dealing with the tragedy and how they were able to sustain and become tighter through that experience, they had to work together. They had to have patience. They had to cope, suffer, learn, and grow together. They had to love and care for each other.

In the office, on your team, in your church, in your family, this always applies. Lead by example. Do the hard work. Give away the wins to others, let the team share in the success, and it will come back to you in ways you can’t imagine.

Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.