Accountability – everyone understands it’s importance in today’s agile, performance-driven environments. But do you REALLY know what it is? Perhaps even more importantly, what it isn’t?
First, let’s understand what accountability is, and ultimately, how it works.
If you walk into a room and ask ten people what accountability means, you’ll likely get ten different definitions. To some, it’s something you make people do, as in “holding people accountable”. To others, accountability means accepting responsibility, but only when a project goes off course, or it’s too late to fix. When it’s all said and done, a workable definition of accountability might include the following elements:
- Taking responsibility for your own behavior
- Doing what’s right – consistently (even when no one is looking)
- Demonstrating personal integrity
- Actively participating in activities and interactions that support the strategy of your organization.
Now that we understand better what accountability is, now let’s consider what it isn’t. Accountability is not something you “make” people do. It has to be chosen, accepted, or agreed upon by the individuals within your organization. People must “buy into” being accountable and responsible. For many people and organizations, this is a new, unfamiliar, and sometimes, uncomfortable way to work or live. Why? Because learning how to become accountable involves an element of discipline (which may “sound” negative, but it’s really not…). Most importantly, individual purpose and personal meaning comes from accepting responsibility and learning to be accountable for one’s behaviors, actions, and ultimately for results.
Watch this short video to better understand why accountability is something done FOR you, not TO you: