By definition, accountability is being answerable or responsible for something. Accountability opens the door to ownership – not necessarily financial ownership — but certainly emotional ownership, where someone acknowledges they’re responsible for some aspect of the organization.

Accountability is not something you “make” people do. It has to be chosen, accepted or agreed upon by people within your organization. People must “buy into” being accountable and responsible. For many, this is a new, unfamiliar, and sometimes, uncomfortable way to work. Most importantly: individual purpose and meaning comes from accepting responsibility and learning to be accountable.

To learn to be accountable means coming to grips with an element of discipline. Accountability is the opposite of permissiveness. Holding people accountable is really about the distribution of power and choice. When people have more choice, they are more responsible. When they become more responsible, they can have more freedom. When they are more accountable, they understand their purpose and role within the organization and are committed to making things happen.

BOTTOMLINE: How can your organization become more accountable for its actions? Consider an external accountability coach, such as those who are certified to coach the Six Disciplines strategy execution program. Building organizational accountability requires not only a systematic method based on proven best-practices; it also requires technologies that make the framework practical to use and implement on a daily, weekly, monthly quarterly and annual basis. In addition, it takes an external accountability coach to hold you and your organization accountable and to help these cultural changes to “stick” – and to make the changes last.