"Don't let your special character and values, the secret that you know and no one else does, the truth -- don't let that get swallowed up by the great chewing complacency." - AESOP
There is no doubt in my mind that success often lulls one into a false sense of security, and thus into a general malaise of complacency.
There is a Chinese idiom which quotes, "失败乃成功之母". Translated, it means failure is the mother of success. Every failure that you experience is a chance to learn from it and find success. Knowing what does not work is just as important as finding out what does work.
An addendum to the above idiom will be "经验是智慧之母". Translated, it means experience is the mother of wisdom. It's been said that wisdom comes from good judgement, and good judgement comes from experience, while experience comes from a series of times when you used bad judgement.
When one becomes complacent, things naturally do go wrong. A real test of character and integrity comes when apportioning blame and responsibility. When we are quick to put blame on others without first looking into the mirror, then we would have lost the faith and trust others have in us. More so especially when the person concerned is holding public office.
Accepting blame and saying sorry is never an easy task, even if paying lip service. For a public officer, it would mean he/she has been less than perfect or derelict in discharging their duties and responsibilities, a personal embarrassment. Also, depending on the nature and severity of the offending incident, that they no longer have the public trust to be holding on to the position that they are presently in.
What sets a person apart is the level of humility and sincerity in meaning what he/she says. There can be no double speak. It is all about managing public perceptions. Accepting blame is only the first step in righting a wrong.
Accepting responsiblity is the next.
Often the chain of command is a long, snakey and matrix-like structure. Rightly but sadly, those at the bottom of the chain are often the ones that bear the full brunt of blame, and subsequently, punishment. It is thus an unwritten rule: "The immediacy of hierarchy level is indirectly proportional to the amount of blame and responsibility apportioned.". In other words, when offences are committed by your surbordinates, the higher up the office you assume, the more "untouchable" you become.
Be that as it may, ultimately the "untouchable" may not escape from accountability. Remember, with power comes responsibility. Accountability must come from where power has been vested in the office of the bearer who resides in it, from which it has control over the area in which the offending incident took place.
What price accountability? In the public sphere, when things do go horribly wrong, that simply means the decent "offer of resignation" from those at the apex.