However, without it I would never get anything done.”
This was an actual quote from a client of mine earlier this year. They were going through a dramatic change in their business and recognized the value of accountability, no matter how painful it might be. It also reminded me how crucial it is for leaders to hold themselves, and those around them, accountable in order to achieve sustainable success.
In their 2012 book, consultants John Blakely and Ian Day suggested accountability falls into three major categories. Personal Accountability which focuses on one’s personal values, beliefs and attitudes that drive them toward action; Interpersonal Accountability which focuses on common goals, responsibility and shared work; and Organizational Accountability which focuses on standards, norms and measurements that apply to the entire organizational system. Let’s explore each one a little deeper.
- Personal Accountability – accountability in general starts here! What we believe, we think and what we think we do. It stands to reason then that being accountable for our behavior is a reflection of how accountable we are to our own attitudes. If those attitudes are out of integrity or alignment with expectations, personal goal setting and achievement must become the norm.
- Interpersonal Accountability – accountability between people is built on the power of one’s word. When we give our word to another, our actions must follow suit or we are out of integrity. No one likes to admit they are not working with integrity, but every time our actions do not match our words, that is exactly what is happening.
- Organizational Accountability – in an environment where multiple responsibilities, priorities and expectations exist across an organization, it is easy to end up with organizational goals at cross-purposes with each other. How does the business align itself across the entire organization to avoid people being responsible for their part of the mission, but not feel accountable to the entire mission?
This last point is especially useful in the discussion of accountability. One’s responsibilities are usually outlined in job descriptions, process flows or other systemic documents identifying what needs to get done by whom. Accountability is an attitude that transcends just one’s responsibilities to ensure the team/business/organization becomes what their Vision invokes.
Alfred Montapert once said, “Nobody ever did, or ever will, escape the consequences of his choices.”
How are you holding yourself accountable to your choices?