How to Role Model Accountability

Accountability

If it is to be, it is up to me. — Unknown

After your second cup of coffee, you realize that Mary had a big deadline two weeks ago and it suddenly occurs that you haven’t heard about results. At your request, Mary comes into your office. When you ask her about the deadline, she says, “I’m waiting on Fred to give me the data. After I receive it, I need a week to analyze it and write my report.” She looks at you with a blank stare as if she was thinking “What? It’s not my fault!” Frustrating, right? Have you reached your breaking point and want to declare that from now on, you have a culture of accountability and that Mary must do whatever it takes to honor her commitments? Before you do that, look in your mirror. Leaders who do not model accountability cannot expect their employees to behave differently.

Leaders who do not model accountability cannot expect their employees to behave differently. Click To Tweet

What is Personal Accountability?

Linda Galindo, author of “The 85% Solution: How Personal Accountability Guarantees Success – No Nonsense, No Excuses”, writes:

“Personal responsibility is a “before-the-fact” mindset of personal ownership and commitment to a result.”

Self-empowerment is taking the actions-and the risks-that you need in order to ensure that you achieve the results you desire.

Being accountable for your results requires an “after-the-fact” mindset of being willing to answer for the outcomes resulting from your choices, behaviors, and actions.”

In their book, “The Oz Principle: Getting Results Through Individual And Organizational Accountability“, Roger Connors and Tom Smith state:

“Taking personal accountability means making a personal choice to rise above one’s circumstances and demonstrate the ownership necessary for achieving desired results; to see it, own it, solve it and do it.” 

Accountability is something you choose to exhibit – it is not assigned to you.

As these two authors emphasize, personal accountability is a choice and a mindset. Specifically, it means that you are 100% responsible for:

  • my choices
  • my feelings
  • my opinions
  • my beliefs
  • my actions
  • the results and the consequences of all the above.

Organizational accountability occurs only when individuals behave accordingly. And, your organization won’t be accountable unless you are. If you struggle with accountability, you are not alone. A study in Harvard Business Review revealed that almost 50% of managers are terrible at accountability.

Where do You Start?

  1. Be brutally honest with yourself. The first step to solve your accountability problem, is to admit that you have an organizational problem, and that you are part of it. Create a list of your unfulfilled promises over the last six months, both professionally and personally. What are the major reasons for you breaking your promises? What changes do you want to make?
  2. Commit to a new mindset of personal accountability. Choose a period of time, such as three months, for which you will honor 100% of your promises.
  3. Don’t overcommit. Carefully consider every commitment: Do you have adequate resources (time, money and people) to execute this promise?
  4. Develop a tracking system. Whether it is a manual list or an app, find a system that you want to use. Capture your commitment as soon as you make it. Periodically review your list and re-prioritize, if necessary. It won’t take long for your team to notice your new behavior and they will begin to trust and respect you.
  5. After your initial three months, publicly admit that you have not been 100% personally accountable in the past. But, during the last three months you have been tracking and honoring your commitments. Ask your employees for help by giving them permission to challenge you if you regress to your past behavior.
  6. Listen for clues that you are not personally accountable. For example, when you hear yourself say, “It’s beyond my control” or “something more important came up”, Stop yourself and ask: “How am I responsible and accountable?” Then publicly regroup and rephrase using “I” statements such as, I’m sorry, that was not an accountable response. Here is what I want to say.”
  7. At the end of every meeting, restate what commitments you made and when you will fulfill them.
  8. Monitor your progress. Periodically, evaluate what percentage of your commitments that you keep. In what areas do you need the most work? In what areas are you succeeding?

Personal responsibility shifts your perspective and eradicates your excuses. Great leaders understand this and role model accountability, not just mandate it.

Great leaders understand this and role model accountability, not just mandate it. Click To Tweet
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