Accountability? Is it a skill or something that is in our genes? Do we gain it from our upbringing or education? We do not know. The big lack of it in the world needs that we express a few opinions about it.
Accountability is the test for a real leader. It is the final step to show maturity in any career. We take responsibility and be accountable for decisions/actions taken. We do not shy away from the consequences whether they are good or bad.
Webster’s Dictionary defines “accountability” as “the quality or state of being accountable; an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility for one’s actions.” Accountability doesn’t mean punishment. Accountability is a willingness to accept responsibility for our own actions.
Business Dictionary: The obligation of an individual or organization to account for its activities, accept responsibility for them, and to disclose the results in a transparent manner. It also includes the responsibility for money or other entrusted property.
Accountability is when an individual or department experiences consequences for their performance or actions. Accountability is essential for an organization and for a society. Without it, it is difficult to get people to assume ownership of their own actions because they believe they will not face any consequences. Investopedia
Accountability leads to success. Why? When people take responsibility for their actions they make changes that lead them to do things differently, to do new things and/or to stop doing things that held them back. This may sound simplistic, but its true. Michael Ray Hopkin
8 Habits of accountable people
Kevin Daum, Inc. 500 Entrepreneur and best-selling author, identified 8 of the many habits accountable people choose to make part of their everyday life. These habits contribute to make them effective and highly valuable wherever they are:
1. They take responsibility.
When responsibility is forced upon people they can often be resistant or even resentful. Highly accountable people willingly take on responsibility and actively manage it so it gets done.
2. They don’t make excuses.
Objective hindsight is helpful when problem solving, but when something goes wrong, in-the-moment blame is a waste of time and energy. Highly accountable people don’t throw others under the bus for their own missteps or inaction.
3. They are on time.
What good is completing initiatives if the usefulness of the result is long past. Highly accountable people understand that every project has a time value and that punctuality serves a purpose.
4. They control their own fate.
In any project obstacles occur. But proper planning with a positive and pragmatic attitude can overcome nearly any obstruction. A victim mentality is not in a highly accountable person’s repertoire.
5. They own their feelings.
Emotions can run hot on a high stakes project. Highly accountable people know that negative emotions can derail productivity. They stay in control of their feelings and don’t let a bad day or emotional colleague get in the way of accomplishing what needs to be done.
6. They manage expectations.
Vagueness leads to inactivity. Highly accountable people are clear about what needs to be done and when. They think carefully and realistically about a project and give you an answer you can rely on.
7. They collaborate.
There are few worthwhile tasks that can be completed by a single individual. Highly accountable people are great at using the resources around them.
8. They don’t expect praise.
Accolades are nice, but none are deserved if the project is partially done. Highly accountable people get their satisfaction from delivering quality product on time with a team that feels great about the accomplishment.
5 Benefits for being accountable as described by
1. Accountability accelerates your performance. When you connect with a coach (one-on-one or in a program) you can work the kinks out of your plan, develop a sure-fire winning strategy and execute with confidence.
2. Accountability helps you measure your success and progress. A good coach will help you define what success looks like and set milestones to measure your progress along the way.
3. Accountability keeps you engaged. There are things that will come up that will distract you from your goals and take you off course. Even when you’re bored, distracted or tired, knowing that you have to answer for your progress will keep you going to the finish line.
4. Accountability will keep you responsible. When you are working with someone who pushes you to make massive changes in a short amount of time and give a report…you finally realize that you are ultimately responsible for how much progress you make every day.
5. Accountability will validate your thoughts and ideas. When you have someone to be accountable to you can silence your inner critic and bounce your ideas off someone else who can help you make sound decisions and give you constructive advice.
There cannot be enough guidelines to improve accountability as there is so much room for improvement in politics and in business. Below are a few sets of suggestions that could be applied in personal development programs.
Improve accountability (1)
Brian P. Moran outlines four things you can do to foster greater accountability:
A. Resolve never to be the victim again. Never make excuses. Focus on the things you can control. Take ownership of your thinking, actions and results.
B. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. Take action to not let self-pity into your life. Learn to manage your thinking and your attitude.
C. Be willing to take different actions. If you want different results, you have to do things differently. Taking action will change your outcome and your attitude.
D. Associate with “Accountables”. Who you associate with matters. Build relationships with people who are accountable.
Hiba Amin suggests the following
to improve accountability (2)
1. Lead by example and hold yourself accountable first. As a manager, you’re the pacesetter of tone, performance, and culture for your team. People will follow your lead.
2. Work on your feedback skills. Giving tough feedback isn’t easy, but you can get better at it. One of the most important things you do as a manager is to provide feedback.
3. Recognize that procrastinating feedback only makes things worse. As uncomfortable as it is, when we procrastinate providing feedback, we only make matters worse.
4. Make accountability a habit. Setting up a reminder to give (and solicit) feedback as part of each meeting agenda will help ensure that feedback flows consistently.
5. Keep track of your commitments and hold each other accountable. If you make a promise to provide more feedback to your direct reports, make sure you add that as a future agenda item to hold yourself accountable.
6. Use an accountability framework. The RACI matrix is recommended. Roles are broken out into four levels of accountability: Responsible: Those who are responsible for completing the task at hand. Accountable: Those who are ultimately accountable for the completion of the task or deliverable. Consulted: These individuals are typically the subject-matter experts on the task at hand. Informed: These are the individuals who are kept up-to-date on progress at each stage of the project.
Accountability needed in the world…
Susmita Sarma suggests 12 guidelines to foster a culture of accountability (3) :
1. Discuss poor or failing performance before it gets out of hand.
2. Redefine goals to meet new, more achievable benchmarks.
3. Structure deliverables in a fair and equitable manner.
4. Require learning and development opportunities.
5. Give regular updates on project and task progress to your team.
6. Provide regular feedback to your direct reports.
7. Accept constructive criticism from your employees.
8. Be kind to your employees.
9. Consider the difficult conversations.
10. Don’t instill fear in your workplace.
11. Provide adequate resources.
12. Remain technologically updated.
The following 7 BENEFITS have been identified for accountability training under supervision:
1. You perform better under observation. 2. You get honest feedback from others. 3. It forces you to follow through on commitments. 4. It creates firm deadlines for important tasks. 5. It keeps you grounded in reality. 6. Learn from the successes and failures of others. 7. It prevents little problems from turning into big ones. DevelopHasGoodHabits.com
To keep ourselves accountable, we should do what we say we will do and take responsibility for the action irrespective of the results. We can’t impose a real sense of responsibility on people. We should set the example and create conditions that create a culture of accountability wherever we are.