I am releasing my fourth book titled, “The Alliance House of Values and Behaviors in late January. In it, I have pulled together what each of The Alliance’s eight core values means and how each pertains to what our company does together, and for our clients all over the United States. Previously, I’ve covered Excellence, Service and Integrity. This week, I’m going to write about Accountability.
For each of our eight values, I’m picking a person in history that I believe best represents each value that The Alliance believes in strongly. For accountability, I have selected Cal Ripken, Jr., the Baltimore Orioles iron man.
The following is from my new book I co-wrote with Jeff Bright:
“Leadership isn’t about simply being in charge and treating your people like soldiers and barking orders. Leadership is sharing your knowledge and your direction so that others grow and reach their potential,” Cal Ripken, Jr. said.
According to the dictionary, Accountability means an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions.
When you think about accountability, what comes to mind? You probably think of a person in your life who is or isn’t the ideal definition of that word. We all have people, responsibilities and obligations whether we like it or not.
When you are part of any team, you have tasks that must get done in order to be successful. To be your best, you have to set goals and you need people around you who will hold you accountable and push to do your best every single day. Part of being on a team is being a teammate. Ideally, you want to assemble the best teammates you can find. That’s how championships are won.
The best teammates lead by example. They are accountable. They push people to succeed. They love to win. They expect others to give 100 percent and they do the same in return. They show up to work consistently. They seemingly do it over and over, time and time again.
Does the number 2,632 mean anything to you? If it doesn’t that’s OK. Unless you are big baseball fan it really shouldn’t.
That’s the number of consecutive games that Cal Ripken Jr. played for the Baltimore Orioles during a 16 ½ run. How’s that for being accountable to your job? Ripken decimated the previous record of 2,130 games by New York Yankee Lou Gehrig, a streak that most baseball people thought would never fall.
At old Yankee Stadium, Gehrig’s monument read “amazing record of 2,130 consecutive games should stand for all time.” Gehrig’s mark stood for 56 years.
How was Ripken able to play so many games in a row, when for 56 years nobody else did? He loved his job. He was accountable to himself and his teammates. He wanted to do everything he could to help the Orioles win.
Ripken’s streak started on May 30, 1982 when the Orioles still played in Memorial Stadium, long before the streak ended at fan-friendly Camden Yards on Sept. 20, 1998.
It lasted five presidential terms. Ripken played for three different Orioles owners and eight managers – including Cal Ripken Sr.
Through bumps and bruises, good teams and bad … Ripken kept coming to work. He played through it all. Every single game.
The streak ended when Ripken decided to sit out the Orioles’ final home game of 1998. Be broke Gehrig’s record on Sept. 6, 1995, yet he continued to take the field for each and every game.
A column by Ken Rosenthal published in the Baltimore Sun the morning after the streak ended said the following:
“Mark down the number — 2,632. No one will ever play that many consecutive games again. No one will even try.
What people will remember is the physical stamina, mental strength and incredible fortune it took for one man to play so many consecutive games.
Iron Man, Family Man, Man of the People — Ripken was all of those things that night, just as he has been virtually his entire career.
The Streak was his destiny. The Streak is his legacy.”
Known for his dogged preparation, some people think Ripken was afraid not to play every day. Maybe he didn’t like the unknown of what might happen if he took a game off? One thing is clear: Ripken certainly knew how to hit, run, throw and catch.
He earned the nickname “Iron Man” during the streak where he shined in the field, earning 19 all-star selections and two Gold Gloves and was twice named American League Most Valuable Player at shortstop and third base for the Orioles.
When the lineup card was handed to umpires before each game, Ripken’s name was always penciled in because he was one of the best and his teammates and managers knew with him playing, the Orioles had a better chance to win than if he didn’t play.
Ripken was accountable to his teammates and himself. He gave everything he could to help the Orioles win during his career. When he retired, he was rewarded by being inducted into the Baseball Hall Of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
What if all of us approached our daily responsibilities and tasks with the same vigor and accountability as Ripken Jr. did for so many years?
I believe holding yourself accountable in all that you do will lead to you performing at a higher level, and it will also raise the productivity of your teammates. I encourage you to work on finding ways to be more accountable. People will take notice, and they will be more likely to follow your lead.
POSTSCRIPT: Can you keep your word? When you tell a person you are going to do something or be somewhere at a certain time, do you keep your promise? So many people don’t keep their word, yet get mad at a person when they do the same thing to them.
It’s the Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have done unto you. That’s about as simple a principle as you can find in the world. Mean what you say and say what you mean. Show up. Be on time. Do the basics and follow through. If your teammates can’t trust you to do what you say, why would a person you just met?
Look at your calendar for the next week. It’s likely you have appointments and meetings scheduled for the next seven days. Can you set a goal to be on time for each appointment, or early, without missing any promises you have penciled in this week? See if you can do it this week, then do it again the next week. Keep doing it until it becomes part of your identity. What if people thought about you in the way they thought about Cal Ripken, Jr. when it came to showing up and playing every single day for the Orioles.