The Millennial Leadership Series: Freedom versus Accountability


I hear the following words often.

“if you wish to see creativity at work, cut the bureaucratic red tape dammit!”

“Hierarchies no longer serve.  We need networks of free individuals”

Red tapes and Hierarchies are all designed to drive accountability. To ensure that in a work situation, where you have been given freedom to act, you become accountable for delivering something in return. Red tape dictates that one submits to certain checks and balances as part of a process to drive an initiative. And to hold onto a work position within an organisation, one needs to accept the command and control hierarchy there.

So what is that which has created this belief that Red tape and Hierarchies which drive accountability somehow negate Freedom and the creativity that might flow out of it?

As I think of the above question, I sense the concerns are really about the perceived loss of Power. Power that comes from a freedom to take decisions and explore creative possibilities. But there is also a flip-side to this. In my own work-life I have seen innumerable instances of people not able to handle the freedom allowed them and actually floundering and not sure of how to proceed.

The Millennial Leader, faced that he is with relentless changes and disruptive influences, can ill afford to get overly involved with sorting out red tapes and hierarchies. He needs to instead  focus on creating a culture that  drives both Freedom and Accountability.

Freedom not about unburdening people and allowing them to do what they want. Rather the kind of freedom that allows people to envision new possibilities.

Accountability not of imposing something and devising reward and punishment schemes to do that.  Rather the kind of accountability that would lead people to take ownership and hold passion for the possibility they envisioned.

What practices does the Millennial Leader needs to adopt to shift from ‘Or’ to ‘And’ between Freedom and Accountability?

In Learning………


Author: Shakti Ghosal

* A PCC Credentialed Executive Coach mentor and trainer for leaders & performance. * A qualified engineer and a PGDM (Faculty Gold medalist) from IIM Bangalore. * Four decades of industry experience spanning Engineering, Maintenance, Projects, Consumer durables, Supply Chains, Aviation and Tourism. * Top level management positions to drive business development, strategy, alliances all around the globe. * A visiting faculty at the IIMs. *A passion to envision trends & disseminate Leadership incubation globally. , * . +91 - 9051787576

5 thoughts on “The Millennial Leadership Series: Freedom versus Accountability”

  1. What and interesting subject to learn – Freedom vs Accountability

    Millennial Leadership is continually evolving live and driven by rapid transformation in e-commerce space

    As I see the ability of millennial leader to “empower an individual with a vision” – Short, Mid & Long term holds key

    Treading ahead without micro managing but with an eye for detail definitely assumes significance.. jump in and jump out (JIJO) as and when required by leadership with individuals / teams



    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed evolution and rapid transformation is the name of the game in this millennium. And so yes, Leadership needs to hold heightened awareness of this to be effective.

      What is that mindset that can lead to improved JIJO as a practice? I suppose it would be a mindset of Freedom and Accountability…….

      Thank you for your thoughts Love.


      Shakti Ghosal


  2. Dear Bela,

    Good morning and thank you for the comment.

    Indeed the aspect of ‘Being free’ is largely perceptual. But I suppose even the aspect of ‘being accountable’ would be largely about how I perceive. Our perception of course is all powerful for us as it dictates how a situation, or person, occurs for us. Which then leads to how I respond and how I act.

    You speak wisely when you say, “Why not instead simply liberate one’s mind and go about their business creating within the parameters they have been given?” But to me that is the easier part, even though I realise it is not easy at all! What becomes much more difficult is how we need to get some kind of alignment ( acceptance?) of other stakeholders regarding the parameters we have set up. In an organisational context, whether we like it or not, this becomes essential for any forward movement to take place.

    As you have concluded, the lesson comes full circle! My musing into ‘Millennial Leadership’ is really to inquire into such aspects and try to figure out what to do, as we are buffeted by faster and faster changes in the environment.




  3. Shakti, you bring up some good points here. And that you are targeting a millennial audience is wise. Freedom is largely perception – anyone who ever read Viktor Frankl would realize this. And why make ridiculous demands that are sure Not to be heard by those in power? Why not instead simply liberate one’s mind and go about their business creating within the parameters they have been given? Otherwise, break free of the corporate structure and start your own business. Then one realizes just why these rules have been placed before them by others – because one must then hold their own workers accountable. So the lesson comes full circle. Better to learn it, I think, in one’s current situation and see if the resistance one holds inside changes. Aloha.


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