5 Key Takeaways from The Oz Principle Book

Last Updated: November 11, 2023 | by Paul Harstrom

If you haven’t already, consider reading or listening to the book,  The Oz Principle: Getting Results Through Individual and Organizational Accountability by Roger ConnorsThomas Smith, and Craig R. Hickman.

The Oz Principle Book Cover
The Oz Principle Book

The book, The Oz Principle, is based on the famous Hollywood classic, The Wizard of Oz.

The concept of “The Oz Principle” derives its name from the renowned tale of “The Wizard of Oz,” which the authors believe vividly illustrates the significance of personal accountability. Throughout the book, the authors draw upon the journey of Dorothy and her companions as a powerful metaphor for our path toward accountability. 

Like Dorothy, the tin man, the Lion, and the Scarecrow embarked on a quest to seek the wizard’s assistance in solving their challenges. If you are familiar with the story, you already know the outcome that awaits them.

At the core of The Oz Principle’s philosophy lies the concept of accountability. The book’s authors emphasize that accountability, rather than relying solely on skills, luck, or determination, is the fundamental element that unlocks the door to achieving desired outcomes and attaining long-term success. But What exactly does the author mean by accountability?

In this article, we will discuss “The 5 Key Takeaways from The Oz Principle Book” to learn about personal accountability and how to apply it personally and professionally. By the end of this blog, you will acquire the knowledge and skills for achieving desired outcomes within your organizations across all hierarchies. 

What Is The Oz Principle Book?

It may seem incredible that one of the best management and business philosophy books is based on what is essentially a children’s movie. When you read the book, you will see why The Wizard of Oz metaphor works so well in business regarding leadership accountability. 

Authors Craig Hickman, Tom Smith, and Roger Connors make the point in the Oz Principle that all employees (especially leaders) within an organization should take full ownership of their work and be entirely accountable for their actions.

Indulging in blame games (as humans are known to do) is a self-destructive behavior that puts the organization’s future, and hence the employee’s job,
at risk.

Paul Harstrom

The central message derived from The Wizard of Oz is that nobody will hand you what you desire or require. However, you possess the inherent power to attain them, provided you refrain from adopting a victim mentality. 

The Oz Principle presents a transformative journey from victim to accountability, asserting that prevalent challenges faced by organizations, such as low productivity, sluggish innovation, and diminished morale, can be effectively resolved. 

Nevertheless, there are no magical shortcuts or quick fixes. Overcoming these obstacles necessitates individuals to assume responsibility and uphold accountability at both personal and organizational levels. As the author states:

“When everyone is accountable for achieving organizational results, and not just doing her job, the right things tend to happen.” 

The Oz Principle Book

Now, suppose you’re not familiar with the Wizard of Oz. In that case, I suggest you read the classic, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum, on which the movie is based. The book features characters you will never forget, such as the main protagonist, Dorothy, a young girl who is a true leader, and her friends, the Tin Man, Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion.

Cast in The Oz Principle Book

At the start of the book, Dorothy and her friends assume are under assumptions that they are the victims of their circumstances – that they have been plagued done for by the vagaries of life and that only the mysterious character of the Wizard of Oz can tell them precisely what’s wrong with them and save them from their current predicament.

Scarecrow in The Oz Principle Book

Many organizations, businesses, and individuals will recognize this predicament. We live in a culture of victimhood, which has only grown in strength over the last two decades.

Nothing is ever our fault, someone else is always to blame, whether it’s the economy, globalization, government, a competitor or some other external problem.

It is common for individuals to suffer from this victim complex. Still, even businesses and organizations are not immune from it. We like to believe that we are victims of our situations or circumstances and that it is not our fault that things are as they are.

The 5 Key Takeaways of The Oz Principle Book Explained

These 5 key takeaways from Oz Principle elucidate how individuals and organizations, equipped with a mindset of accountability, can triumph over obstacles, overcome excuses, and transcend biases that prevent their progress and growth.

On a Quest for Enhanced Accountability in the Business World, Search For Wizard:

At the book’s outset, the characters find themselves in a state of helplessness, seeking an external solution to their problems. They see themselves as victims, lacking power and control over their circumstances.

When things go wrong in average companies, leaders tend to look for external factors to blame, such as the economy or regulations. However, in accountable companies, leaders take internal responsibility and face bad news head-on. They proactively address issues, adapt to market changes, and make tough decisions to ensure long-term success.

Organizations where employees are fully accountable for what they do experience a 200% rise in profit margins, a 900 % jump in stock price, 50% faster customer response and 80% reduction in the number of complaints.

A victim mentality, where individuals seek quick fixes and prioritize perception over results, can harm productivity, competitiveness, morale, and trust. Long-term success requires individuals to take accountability for their actions and outcomes, recognizing that the power to overcome challenges and achieve desired results lies within themselves rather than relying on management fads or external promises.

Victimization is about blaming others and circumstances for hindering progress. At the same time, accountability is a personal choice to rise above circumstances, take ownership, find solutions, and take action. 

1. The key to accountability is to “See it, Own it, Solve it, and Do it.”

Above the line, accountability involves:

  • Taking ownership
  • Being responsible
  • Embracing opportunities

On the other hand, below the line, there is a tendency towards:

  • Blame
  • Excuses
  • Denial
  • Unnecessary drama

So a key lesson here is that rather than relying on a mythical wizard to solve your problems, recognize that the power to overcome challenges lies within yourself. You are the wizard capable of finding solutions and achieving success.

Organizations where employees are fully accountable for what they do experience a 200% rise in profit margins, a 900 % jump in stock price, 50% faster customer response, and an 80% reduction in the number of complaints.

2. How To Get Out Of Victim Cycle, The Yellow Brick Road:

It is a common and innate human tendency to occasionally succumb to the cycle of victimhood where we feel like we have no control over our circumstances.

We may ignore or deny problems, avoid taking responsibility by saying it’s not our job, blame others instead of accepting our role, or feel confused and wait for someone else to tell us what to do. We might even try to cover ourselves by creating elaborate stories or hoping things will get better without taking action.

These behaviors keep us trapped and prevent us from moving toward accountability and achieving results. It’s important to recognize these signals and choose to break free from the victim cycle. Remember, we all have the power to take control of our actions and make a positive change.

According to the authors, accountability means making a personal choice to go beyond our current situation and take full responsibility for achieving the results we want. It involves adopting a mindset of constantly asking ourselves, 

“What more can I do to overcome challenges and reach my goals?” 

The Oz principle book

This definition emphasizes the importance of owning our actions, finding solutions to problems, and taking proactive steps toward success. Never shy away from asking your team essential questions such as:

  • What can you do in the future to reduce or minimize the adverse outcomes of a specific action or behavior?
  • What did we do as a team that led to this failure to achieve desired results as an organization?
  • Did we ignore any facts or misread the situation – is that what led to the mistake?
  • If we face this problem again, what should we do differently?

Don’t be afraid to ask the most pertinent questions that cut to the issue’s core and lead to an honest debate with every team member contributing.

Also, read The Ruthless Elimination Of Hurry Summary

3. Accountability Begins By Clearly Focussing On Results; There Is No Place Like Home:

The authors emphasize that accountability is not just about going through the motions or following a set of tasks. It is about consistently delivering the desired results and taking ownership of them. 

“You can’t create accountability without clearly defining results.”

The Oz Principle Book

The focus on results in The Oz Principle teaches us that instead of dwelling on problems, making excuses, or blaming external factors, we should shift our attention towards taking ownership of the situation and finding ways to drive towards the desired outcomes. This lesson emphasizes the importance of personal accountability and proactive problem-solving to achieve success.

In The Oz Principle, the authors highlight the concept of “Above the Line” thinking, which involves taking ownership and being accountable for our actions and their impact on achieving results. This mindset encourages individuals and organizations to actively seek solutions, take the initiative, and do whatever it takes to achieve the desired outcomes.

Above The Line_Below The Line_Oz Principle Book
OZ Principle Above the Line

By adopting an “Above the Line” mentality, individuals are encouraged to

  • “See It” by recognizing the current reality and understanding the desired results
  • “Own It” by taking personal responsibility for their role in achieving those results
  • “Solve It” by proactively finding solutions and overcoming obstacles
  • “Do It” by taking decisive action and following through with a commitment

Individuals and organizations can foster a culture of accountability and drive success by staying focused on the end goal and continuously striving to achieve the intended outcomes.

Combine The Oz Principle Above the Line with the StoryBrand Framework (read our blog post) for 10x success.

4. How To Move Yourself Above The Line, The Power Of Accountability:

Taking responsibility for your actions and acknowledging that you can overcome challenges requires courage. When we resist change or refuse to accept the evolving circumstances around us, we behave in a way that keeps us below the line of accountability. It takes bravery to embrace reality. 

“Facing reality means facing your fears – fear that you are not good enough and fear of rejection.” 

It means seeing things from a different perspective and admitting our faults or doing things we may not want to do. By doing so, we let go of the victim narrative we’ve been holding onto and start seeing things as they are.

Failing to recognize reality can lead to severe consequences like:

  • Failed company strategies
  • Job losses
  • Financial setbacks

To better understand reality, reflect on the symptoms of the victim cycle and see if you relate to any of them. Seeking feedback from others can also help increase self-awareness.

Approach your colleagues and ask for their honest feedback, explaining your motivation. Listen attentively, ask questions, and avoid becoming defensive when receiving feedback. 

By actively seeking feedback, you’ll see things from different perspectives. If you receive negative feedback in a performance review or informally, embrace it instead of shying away from it.

Seek additional feedback in that specific area and have the courage to acknowledge that you may have been wrong or acting below the line. By seeking feedback and taking these steps, you are already moving above the line and embarking on your journey toward accountability.

5. Mastering Above The Line Leadership Through Collective Accountability:

According to the authors, achieving organizational results is a collaborative effort rather than an individual endeavor. When a company falls short of its goals, it reflects a collective failure rather than any one person’s fault.

Recognizing the importance of joint accountability is crucial in understanding how organizations function. It allows us to move away from the harmful habit of blaming others and instead focus on the shared responsibility of each team member. 

By embracing the principle of joint accountability, we create a culture where everyone is expected to fulfill their obligations, resulting in a more effective and productive organization. As stated by the author:

“Organizational results come from a collective, not individual, activity,” 

Roger Connors, Thomas Smith, Craig Hickman

In today’s organizations, leaders are expected to be more than just successful in achieving goals. They need to demonstrate integrity, honesty, and genuine care for everyone involved. 

A survey by Korn/Ferry, a consulting firm, revealed that leadership flaws are now considered more important than poor financial performance when removing a CEO. 

This emphasizes the increasing importance of effective leadership throughout the organization, where decision-making authority is being shared more widely. Being an accountable leader is becoming a necessity, not just an advantage.

“Acknowledge the reality, accept full accountability for your actions, identify the right solution, and do everything possible to correct the mistake.”

Paul Harstrom, Founder of LEAD DILIGENTLY

To learn more about the significance of The Oz Principle and how it enhances your organizational culture, Click here to read Changing Organization Culture By Harnessing Oz Principle. 


By adopting the above-mentioned 5 Key Takeaways from The Oz Principle Book, business owners can gain the ability to overcome the most demanding challenges faced by their organization. These key lessons emphasize that individuals possess the power and potential to tackle and resolve difficult situations. 

Rather than relying solely on external factors employees are empowered to take ownership of their responsibilities and contribute towards finding solutions to achieve growth and success.

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts about the leadership accountability.

How LEAD Diligently Can Help You

Lead Diligently offers expert-led leadership development programs to help you build business executive skills & advance profitable enterprises.

We are on a mission to help our clients gain the clarity they need to wholly pursue their God-given purpose and grow profitable enterprises.


Why is it called The Oz Principle?

The Oz Principle Book Cover

It is called “The Oz Principle” because the book draws parallels between the story “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” and the concept of taking responsibility and being accountable for one’s actions and outcomes.

What are the steps to accountability?

The four steps to accountability are:
(1) See It – Recognize the reality of the situation
(2) Own It – Take personal responsibility for the outcomes
(3) Solve It – Identify and implement solutions
(4) Do It – Take action to achieve the desired results

How to implement the oz principle?

To implement “The Oz Principle,” individuals and organizations need to foster a culture of accountability by encouraging open communication, setting clear goals, providing necessary resources, and holding individuals responsible for their commitments and actions.

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