Making Peace With Accountability

Accountability is the guiding principle that defines how we make commitments to one another. It is how we measure and report our progress, how we interact when things go wrong, how much ownership we take to get things done. In essence,  it is the nerve center that runs throughout every part of the organization, through every working relationship to every member of every team. 

Unfortunately, people in most organizations only worry about accountability when something goes wrong, resulting in a “run for cover” mentality when anyone mentions the word. By introducing a new view of accountability, a positve and principled view, accountability becomes something that everyone can embrace as a helpful step in making things happen.

A team that avoids accountability… 

  • Creates resentment among team members who have different standards of performance
  • Places an undue burden on the team leader as the sole source of discipline
  • Encourages mediocrity
  • Misses deadlines and key deliverables

Most people view accountability as something that belittles them, happens only when performance wanes, or occurs when problems develop or results fail to materialize. Many think accountability only arises when something goes wrong or for the sake of pinning blame and pointing a finger. Very rarely do people ask, “Who is accountable for this success?” As a result, the notion of accountability for many employees has taken a hard, critical edge.

When used as a tool for productivity and engagement,  accountability asks, “What else can I do to rise above my circumstances and achieve the desired results?” Accountability involves a process of seeing, owning, solving and doing and requires a level of ownership that includes making, keeping, and answering personal commitments.

Accountability is actually a very loving, respectful gesture. Holding someone accountable for something they said they would do is a gesture that conveys, “You said you wanted to do this, and I want to support you by holding you accountable so that you can follow through on your word.” 

We avoid accountability because we see it as shaming others or adding conflict. In truth, when used correctly and respectfully, accountability can increase morale and deepen connection between co-workers. Accountable workplaces are peaceful, collaborative environments where everyone feels supported and valued.