What is accountability?

According to Webster’s dictionary:

“Accountability is the quality or state of being accountable; and obligation or willingness to accept responsibility for one’s actions.”

“Winning with Accountability” by Dynamic Results – Henry Evans:

Accountability: ” Clear commitments which in the eyes of others – have been kept.”

In a simple way to interpret it, accountability is the perception that you did what you said that you would do. There are some keywords associated with accountability:

Obligation; Willingness; Ownership; Commitment

What is the difference between accountability vs. responsibility at the work place?

We often hear people say “I am responsible for XYZ project”

Sale manager says :”I am holding the team accountable for the sales results.”

Here is the difference:

RESPONSIBILITY is task-focused; ACCOUNTABILITY is result-focused.

Responsibility is the duty to complete tasks; not doing so is a failure of responsibility;

Accountability is the duty to give an account of tasks after they are completed.

Responsibility is there from the beginning even before the task starts;

Accountability is being discussed while the task is completed.

You can delegate responsibility;

You cannot delegate accountability.

Why is accountability important for business?

  1. Deliver Results

Accountability leads to business results. Ultimately, positive results , achieving goals is what keeps a business sustainable. If a leader has a team of members who responsibilities but no accountability toward successful outcome, it is likely that the leader is the only one accountable for the results. On the other hand, if a leader has a team of members who are accountable to deliver results, the team are working towards achieving the result. Which scenario do you think is more likely to succeed?

  1. Build Trust

Accountability includes holding yourself and each other accountable. It starts with holding yourself accountable. And it is not applied to only leaders. Being accountable = deliver your commitments. If you do what you say, others are building trust towards your words. over time, the trust is established.

  1. High-performance Culture

In a team, accountability is a critical element of building a high-performance culture. If everyone an hold themselves accountable to their commitments, the team is likely to delivery high efficiency and high quality results. Team members built trust toward each other. Roles and responsibilities are clear. Accountability helps eliminate waste.

The important question: HOW to build accountability?

You can find lots of resources about why is accountability important for leadership. It is not a magic word. Learning about accountability does not directly translate into an accountability team culture. Achieving accountability is a process just like any habit change. It requires structure and change management. That is in the HOW- my sweet spot,

I often see how great initiatives got lost after a passionate seminar, because the team do not know how to apply the learning into daily activities. Over the years of experiences I have learned that the transformation of knowledge requires a method that is easily adapted, plus coaching to reinforce the change. When I developed the “5-Step Method” to help teams achieve goals, I built in the structure and tools to support accountability. Let me share with you how.

  1. Clear expectations:

First of all, the leaders have to take a clear look at where they are at. Be aware of the state quo. Then, clearly define where the success is. It is a seemingly simple process. I have seen leaders struggle to nail down to specific the clear definition of success. Once the leaders get clarity of what is expected from the team, then he/she can communicate clearly to the team. That eliminates the room for ambiguity and waste of effort.

  1. SMART actions:

Before we make a commitment, we want to know the specific of what we are committing to. That is the beauty of developing SMART actions. Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timeline. When the team commit to the actions, hey know exactly what they are committing to, by when. This process of the “5-Step Method” involves the team to brainstorm SMART actions together. If the team is involved in the process of developing these actions, they are much more empowered with ownership. And they are more likely to know what is achievable and realistic for them to commit to. End of the day, the team go ownership, accountability and commitment!

  1. Visualization:

When the progress is visible, there is no room for misperception. Putting the progress in front of the team creates transparency. The transparency is not for punishment. It helps the team SEE how their contribution affects the team result. When team sees progress, they are motivated. When team sees lack of progress, they got sense of urgency. Transparency ensures accountability. It provides invisible motivation to deliver their commitment.

  1. Reflection:

The phase helps with awareness and continuous learning. It is a phase of looking into the mirror. Realize the how well you are doing & where it is lacking. Realize where it is lacking is not a bad thing. That is opportunity for improvement. It is a process to learn about your weak spots when it comes accountability. Knowing what stops you from being successful is the step towards success.In a team, it is also an opportunity to ask for help. It created ” Accountability partners” and make the team relationship stronger.

  1. Celebration:

It is important to celebrate success-even small ones. It is a recognition of progress a shot of energy and motivation. Just as Atomic habit said, taking small steps towards big results. The journey of achieving strategic goals are hard, and long. A short stop to recharge makes the journey more fulfilling.

Then I put deadline to them. Let’s say I start working at 9am

 1.video script developed – 10am

 2.Have video recording 

 3.material ready – 11am

 Break & lunch

 4.Video recorded & pictures taken – 1:30pm

 5.Video edited and ready – 3pm

 6.Video uploaded and ready for publish – 4pm

Once again:

Purpose+Priority +Productivity=Results.

The secret to sustainable, repeated results is Resilience. Keep repeating this formula, it helped me tremendously. I hope it will help you achieve your goals.