Accountability Is?

Ask a coworker, ask your boss, ask your neighbor, ask another member of your booster club, “what is accountability?”  So frequently the response is “do what you say you’re going to do.  It’s that simple”.  But is accountability really that simple, because if it was, there wouldn’t be so much friction inside the organization with endless chatter at the drinking fountain about the subject.

Accountability by perception is frequently viewed as a negative hot potato that has more application to the other person than to ourselves.  Just ask somebody and they are normally happy to prove it.  When we do what we say we will do, we look at ourselves as accountable and at the same time fall down from all of the other measures of accountability that may not have been on the radar.  We recently completed a training event with a leadership team who’s members began the program with that brief definition of accountability, and left with a list of corrections to make the were the result of them not being accountable in so many other ways.   Lets identify some other less visible measures of accountability so the entire world of accountability comes into view.

1. If you are on the leadership team but your responsibilities are directed outside the four corporate walls and you say to yourself, “I’m not getting in the middle of this one, it really doesn’t effect me”.  Then you’re not being accountable to the team.

2. If your team views the company like they are not good listeners and they don’t care, but the reality is you are the one who doesn’t listen and it reflects back on the company, then you’re not being accountable.

3. If the team has historically had a challenge with follow through, and with this new leadership  initiative your attitude is that a renewed effort is pointless because nothing ever comes of it, then perhaps you’re not being accountable to the team to achieve possibilities.

4. If you don’t reveal a genuine problem with another person’s department because you are affraid they will retaliate and reveal two problems with yours, then this fear is making you unaccountable.

5. If you don’t easily admit mistakes and offer immediate and sincere apologies, then will the team look at you as not being accountable?

6. If you limited your effort to doing what you said you will do, and avoid an opportunity to do what you could have done to really improve a result, then should your team see you as accountable?  Probably not.

7. Your on the leadership team, and you honestly believe that the company is better off doing what it’s been doing all these years so you resist change and in the process demonstrate to your team that you are not the person to lead them through it.  Did you just destroy your accountability?

Accountability has so so many faces and many of them are either not on our radar, or don’t fall within our definition of accountability so we dont see how we fall short.  That is why our own list of accountability gaps is so short.  It’s not because we actually  are accountable, it’s because we don’t always recognize the ways that we are not.  What other measures of accountability can you add to this list?