Why Drama-Based Accountability Fails

Posted on March 17, 2021 by Nate Regier / 1 comments
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A lot of passionate people are committed to accountability. Watchdog groups, fact-checkers, whistle-blowers, advocacy groups, and the like. Regardless of their purpose, they all share a deep desire to protect people from harm and hold the perpetrators accountable for their bad behavior.

That’s admirable.

Until the drama creeps in. Drama hijacks the brains of passionate people and leads them down the path of justification instead of effectiveness.

Drama-based accountability manifests like this:

  • I decide who’s right and who’s wrong, who’s OK and who’s not OK.
  • If you don’t agree with me, you are part of the problem, even if you weren’t initially part of the problem.
  • I’m not accountable. My so-called allies become adversaries if they push back or disagree with me.
  • Not only will I call you out, but I’ve already decided what you have to do to make it right.
  • I’m willing to shame you, harass you, and attack you in pursuit of better behavior (how ironic).
  • Collateral damage is OK, as long as you suffer.
  • I stop asking, “How’s this working?” My only goal is to make you pay.

Drama-based accountability fails to get lasting change because:

  • It is adversarial.
  • It undermines human dignity.
  • It invites more secrecy, more avoidance, more defensiveness.
  • It prevents others from contributing to the solution.
  • It rules out so many other ways to reach a common goal.
  • Collateral damage to communities and relationships grows.
  • Hypocrisy ultimately compromises the watchdog.

The solution is Compassionate Accountability; guided by these fundamental truths about humans and change:

  • People want to feel heard and seen.
  • People want to be involved in solutions that affect them.
  • Preserving dignity reduces defensiveness.
  • Collaboration increases accountability.
  • There are many ways to reach a goal.
  • There’s always another way to see things.

If you are looking for a better way to pursue accountability without compromising human dignity, contact us today. 


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1 Comments

Photo of Michael Gilbert
Michael Gilbert
Posted on March 17, 2021

Excellent characterization and points. Unfortunately, those who might benefit from your message probably won’t read it. Their mantra would seem to be, “Everything’s OK as long as I win and you lose.”

Photo of Janet
Janet
Posted on March 17, 2021

I have more faith in education than perhaps others do. I have seen lights come on through exposure to new information. We have a lot of conflict because it is a part of being human but people have no earthly idea what to do when it occurs. High compassion and High accountability is the way out of drama and instead experiencing “conflict with no casualties” by learning and engaging in new skills. People get tired and want a new way of dealing with things so it is a win win. This is ultimately easier on everyone! It may be a tough sell, but it sure is NOT impossible! Thank you, Next Element!

Photo of Nate Regier
Nate Regier
Posted on March 18, 2021

Thank you Janet, you are doing tremendous work in restorative practices in the school systems and beyond.

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Photo of Nate Regier
Nate Regier
Posted on March 18, 2021

Michael, I suppose that there are those people at the extreme end of the spectrum who aren’t reading or reflecting on this perspective. And, there are plenty who read and are impacted by this message. I am currently working with a leadership team of whom most would subscribe to drama-based accountability before our training. Now, the majority of them are trying new approaches, and recognizing ineffective habits and trying to change them. If I can reach a strategic leader, COO, CLO, CHRO who is looking for a better way to build culture, they may recognize these signs and be able to make a positive difference.

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