This intriguing question popped up in a leadership program I was presenting this week. A young, very bright and ambitious manager was very sincere in wondering why leaders need to think about being accountable.
“Isn’t being accountable just plain common sense?” she wondered.
The other managers in the workshop listened carefully and processed what she was feeling. I could see them mulling over how they felt about what was shared by the young manager.
“Not really” said one manager. “As leaders we need to look at how our team members are performing and make sure each person is contributing in the best possible way.”
“I think we need to set an example of how to be accountable,” said another manager. “It isn’t so obvious what accountability means to each of our departments.”
“What does accountability mean to you?” asked a third participant. “To me, being accountable involves specific steps and having trust on your team.”
Being accountable is an important leadership skill, yet one that is often forgotten about or not discussed. Whether we are a team leader, an active team participant or a solo entrepreneur, thinking about what accountability means can redefine how we solve problems and tackle challenges.
What does accountability mean to you? Here are four ways to take hold of your leadership accountability:
1. Define accountability for yourself, your team and your organization
Begin by understanding your personal “take” on accountability. Some questions you might want to ask are:
- What does accountability look like in my work as well as personal spaces?
- To whom am I accountable?
- What actions did I take this week that demonstrated accountability?
- Would other people around me say I was accountable?
2. How could I show more ownership of my actions, decisions and attitudes?
It is sometimes easiest for us to blame someone else for not giving us the right information or delaying our deadline. When we throw away being part of the solution by not taking ownership, then we too are responsible for not completing our project. But when we try to resolve a missing piece or inaccurate data we are modeling accountability.
3. Help others to be accountable
We talk a lot about this in all my programs about how leaders can empower others see why their contributions are so important. Instead of finding fault with directions people give us or material that seems less than perfect, we can help others clarify their expectations. Look at the work from their point of view. Then think of ways to help them be more successful and responsible. Sometimes it can be as simple as sharing how we prioritize our workload.
4. Put trust at the top of your list
If we don’t have a trust level with our teammates or people with collaborate with, it is impossible for us to have a clear understanding of how we can best be accountable.
- Do what you say you will do
- Don’t blame
- Don’t judge
- Be an advocate for others
- Roll your sleeves up and jump in to help
Is being accountable just common sense? How do you show your leadership accountability to yourself and others?