"Accountability is - first and foremost - about being reliable. To get a good picture of your personal accountability, you may want to periodically ask yourself, "Can people count on me to do what I say I'll do, as I said I would do it?" - Henry J. Evans
What do you think of when you hear the word accountability? What we think and feel about accountability speaks volumes about the lens through which we see the world around us. Organizations around the world grapple with the effects of personal and mutual accountability in the workplace.
You and I alone are responsible for our words and behaviors and should welcome being held accountable for them because accepting the responsibility builds character. Words and actions have consequences, knowing that these are under our control should be empowering to us.
“Accountability breeds response – ability” – Stephen R. Covey
Accountability, once mastered and embraced for its qualities, is a powerful force to be reckoned with, willingly and intentionally taking responsibility for the consequences of our thoughts, conversations, and behaviors set boundaries that exemplify the qualities of good character.
Confidently and unashamedly answering questions, explaining the reasons for our comments, decisions, and actions is an empowering and refreshing experience that sets us apart from the debilitating negative energy that stems from excusing or justifying ourselves by assigning blame.
Paul G. Stoltz says, "Blaming, whining, deflecting accountability, risk aversion, and resistance to change are but a handful of symptoms of the adversity-beaten individual and organization." Whenever I hear managers and leaders exclaim, "We must hold people more accountable," it tells me there's a high probability their organization hasn't developed a culture of mutual respect via mutual accountability.
Accountability Is Commendable
"Accountability is a statement of personal promise, both to yourself and to the people around you, to deliver specific defined results." - Brian Dive
Being honest and emotionally strong enough to hold ourselves personally accountable for our decisions' good and bad outcomes makes a positive impact on those around us. Choosing the high road of courage raises the bar of integrity when so many approvals driven people seek refuge under the "better to belong than stand-alone" mentality.
Self-respect allows us to welcome accountability when we consider our work to be a reflection of our character, and consistent outcomes our signature. Increasing the level of self-respect among coworkers has a positive impact on organizational culture. Isn't it true that more often than not, the level of a team's performance can be measured by their sense of responsibility and mutual respect for one another?
Simon Sinek furthers the point saying, "We are not accountable to ourselves. We are accountable to each other. When we have other people, who are invested in our work, we are all the more likely to deliver for them. Who are your accountability partners?"
Accountability Is A Necessity
When we are others oriented, mutual accountability enhances teamwork, fosters self-respect, and provides mutual emotional support. The synergistic outcome of mutual accountability rewards organizations with better morale and increased productivity.
Di Worrall of Accountability Leadership states," Individuals and teams have a sense of ownership, and are focused, disciplined and collaborative while holding each other accountable for outcomes."
Accountability Failing Forward Together
"Most great people have attained their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure."-Napoleon Hill
Failure provides learning opportunities; knowing how to process and utilize the wisdom gained from our failures is invaluable. John C Maxwell observes, "Think about a recent setback you experienced. How did you respond? No matter how difficult your problems were, the key to overcoming them doesn't lie in changing your circumstances. It's in changing yourself."
Lifelong learners understand the value of growing through failures. Excavating the "wisdom gold" from our failures in a team setting strengthens personal and mutual accountability, due to the trust factor fostered by the mutual respect inherent in genuine teamwork.
Achieving our objectives working through the wins and losses requires teamwork, which can only come about by accountability. Sam Silverstein echoes those sentiments saying, "I believe that accountability is the basis of all meaningful human achievement."
Accountability finds its effectiveness in clearly defined expectations. Fostering a culture of personal and mutual accountability with clearly articulated target dates and expected outcomes increases productivity.
The National Institute of Corrections published "Evidence-Based Decision Making" lays out simple, common-sense guidelines, "When roles and responsibilities are clearly defined, team members look beyond their own individual positions and learn to understand, respect, and value the unique contributions of one another, and they recognize that the overall success of the team is a function of shared responsibility and ownership."(1) Businesses and families alike always benefit from simple, clear personal and mutual accountability guidelines.
Accountability Fosters Trust
When employees are accountable and personally responsible for their work, team members begin to trust each other. People are more inclined to ask for help knowing that team members depend on each other. Not wanting to disappoint one another, members are inclined to give their personal best.
Believe in Your Team
Being confident in a well-developed onboarding process allows you to believe in the people you employ. Simple checks and balances enable them todo what they do best freely. Mutual accountability empowers your people to take the initiative in their areas of responsibility, knowing team members and leaders are available to help when needed.
"Responsibility equals accountability equals ownership. And a sense of ownership is the most powerful weapon a team or organization can have." - Pat Summitt
(1)National Institute of Corrections "Evidence-Based Decision Make"https://bit.ly/3cdpMNT
*** This article was authored by John Picarello, Chief Leadership Officer at Lions Pride Leadership Co.***