In my opinion, being accountable is one of the most positive personality and leadership traits.
- When important things need to get done, you and/or your team state with confidence, “I own that. We will review what needs to get done and provide an update next week. We will achieve the end of month target.”
- When things don’t go as planned, you and/or your team state, “My bad. This should have been done by X date, but I missed that mark. I apologize and would like to discuss an alternative date. I assure you that we’ll meet the adjusted time line.”
- When a direct report misses a date for a task that is due to your boss, as the leader, you take ownership, “Unfortunately X project is not ready yet. I should have done a better job planning with the team to make this date. I assure you that we will provide the deliverable by Friday.”
- When team members do not like a decision that “management” made, you respond with, “I actually made that decision. I had to make some difficult calls, but I weighed all options, got input from the leadership team and decided that this was the best course of action”.
When I am in discussions with accountable people, it is a breath of fresh air. The conversation focuses on the job at hand and driving results. The focus is NOT on egos, passing the buck or making excuses. I hear phrases such as, “I will”, “I can”, “I did”, “I missed that, but assure you I will get back on track”.
Alternatively, lack of accountability is one of the LEAST attractive personality or leadership traits. Consistently acting this way will kill your credibility, reputation and effectiveness, as well as that of your teams’. We should ban words and phrases like “maybe”, “probably” and “not sure who owns this”.
What are you doing to drive an accountability culture in your organization?