100 days.  The first 100 days in the White House are all about accountability.  Accountability to promises made during the campaign, promises made to voters, and, ultimately, promises made to all citizens.  On this eve of President Trump’s first 100 Days, we decided to take a look at what accountability looks like. TIME’s 100 Most Influential People list is highlighted by leaders and pioneers that not only hold themselves, but others accountable as they leave undeniable marks on their profession.  Here are lessons in accountability from three leaders you might not know:

Demis Hassabis

Hassabis, a computer scientist known for his extensive research into artificial intelligence (AI), sold his business, DeepMind Technologies, to Google for nearly $500 million.  As TIME described, Hassabis believes AI will “help solve humanity’s grand challenges—alleviating poverty, curing disease, and improving the environment.”  As you’d imagine, if Hassabis makes AI a reality, the monetary gain could be astronomic. But as dedicated as he is to bringing AI to life, he’s equally set on keeping it out of the wrong hands and has created an ethics board at Google to prevent such a thing.

“I think AI could be world changing, it’s an amazing technology. All technologies are inherently neutral, but they can be used for good or bad so we have to make sure that it’s used responsibly,” Hassabis told Backchannel. “I and my cofounders have felt this for a long time. Another attraction about Google was that they felt as strongly about those things, too.”

Thinking about a future working along side robots is still a bit unsettling, but Hassabis and his convictions of transparency certainly provides comfort.

Dr. Glenda Gray

Gray, a pioneer in HIV research, tackled the epidemic long before we knew much about it. She fought to desegregate hospitals in apartheid-era South Africa while she trained to become a pediatrician. There she watched babies die from a disease her own government claimed didn’t cause AIDS.

She organized strikes and treated those injured in protests in the early 1990’s. She found loopholes that provided patients’ treatments then denied by hospitals. She levied lawsuits against the government in 2001, demanding the distribution of treatment to HIV-positive pregnant women across the country.

Now, decades later, her research, service, and efforts to hold her country accountable have decreased the number of babies born with HIV from 600,000 each year to 150,000.

Barry Jenkins

Jenkins, the writer and director of the film Moonlight, is unique. He’s not responsible for keeping a community of scientists or an entire country of lawmakers in check. Instead, he’s responsible for keeping himself and the entire world accountable at the same time.

Thanks to Warren Beatty’s infamous goof at this year’s Oscars, Jenkins wasn’t able to deliver his speech after his second feature film was named Best Picture. Luckily, we can read what he planned to say that night.

“You don’t assume a boy who grew up how and where we did would grow up and make a piece of art that wins an Academy Award,” Jenkins wrote. “I’ve said that a lot, and what I’ve had to admit is that I placed those limitations on myself, I denied myself that dream. Not you, not anyone else — me.

“And so, to anyone watching this who sees themselves in us, let this be a symbol, a reflection that leads you to love yourself. Because doing so may be the difference between dreaming at all and, somehow through the Academy’s grace, realizing dreams you never allowed yourself to have. Much love.”

Though Jenkins never envisioned himself accepting such an award, he followed his heart, told his story, proved accountable to himself and his dreams, and succeeded well beyond his imagination.

Today you may not be busy mapping brain functions, fighting AIDS, or directing feature films.  However, as a leader, at home and in the workplace, accountability matters.  By leading by example, holding yourself accountable first and then your team, you’ll influence your team and organization for great good.


Interested in how other historic leaders led with accountability? Check out our Gettysburg Leadership Experience. Generals Ewell, Lee, and Meade; all are stories with real accountability implications.