My father was a platoon sergeant in the U.S. Army but thankfully, he did not treat my younger brother, Julian, and me like privates. Although we were not raised in a strict military type environment, we were taught by our father not to make excuses.
The only acceptable responses to questions regarding the completion of tasks were “yes, sir” and “no, sir”. If not, excuses were not accepted.
It was one of the ways my brother and I learned accountability.
When I was raising my own son, I gained more clarity about the value of accountability. When my son made mistakes, I wanted to use them as learning opportunities. So, unlike my father and I, my son and I discussed why things did not get done.
What I soon learned was that if my son did not have an excuse for why he made a mistake, he was not likely to make that mistake again. But if he made an excuse, it was almost a guarantee that he would make a similar mistake in the future.
It seems excuses and accountability don’t mix.
A critical part of leadership is credibility, a key part of credibility is choosing to be accountable for our mistakes. But if we are going to be accountable for our mistakes we cannot excuse them.
Were you raised by one or two military parents? If so, what leadership lessons did you learn from them?