One of the most controversial concepts in the workplace in accountability. Finding genuine leadership accountability in an individual is the mark of a good leader. Only if the leadership answers for their actions, will accountability be present within the organization as a whole.
What is leadership accountability?
Leadership expert, author, and blogger, Michael Hyatt, says accountability first and foremost, “means that you accept responsibility for the outcomes expected of you—both good and bad. You don’t blame others. And you don’t blame the external environment. There are always things you could have done—or still can do—to change the outcome.”
When you don’t take responsibility, you become a passive, reaction-less victim – the exact opposite of a leader. Leaders are pro-active. They accept responsibility, take risks and the initiative to bring changes to the outcome.
Leadership Accountability vs. The blame game
With the world more vocal than ever, people are less likely to accept accountability for their actions. It seems like every other day you hear about a person being sued or finger pointing on Facebook in a viral post for not doing their job. These kinds of events and thinking in the past few years has turned accountability into a feared and negative practice.
Nobody relies on, nor trusts leaders who run at the first sign of trouble, and points a finger at others to try and shift the responsibility for the outcome. Your employees look up to you at every bump in the road for guidance and support. If you are unable or unwilling to be there in the tough times, your employees will lose their trust and dedication to the job. If you want to be a good leader, you have to accept accountability for everything you do.
Just as when you readily accept credit when the good times roll in, you should just as willingly step forward into the spotlight when things go wrong.
Leadership Accountability starts with ownership
It’s crucial for business owners and leaders to be accountable themselves before they expect it at all levels of their organization. Accountability is about ownership. The more you give your employees ownership for what they are responsible for, the more they will own it. Same goes for the leadership level and vision for the company. You have a vision for your company. You are accountable for that vision. As simple as the concept is that you own the company, you own the vision, you are therefore accountable, yet too often we come across leaders who view their employees as the ones who should be accountable for driving the organization forward. Just remember, for them to be accountable and driving it somewhere, they need to know where it is going and what part of that path they are responsible for.
I was brought into an organization by the CEO who felt he had a major issue with accountability and was continually frustrated when things fell through the cracks or people didn’t follow through on what they said they would do. It didn’t take long to see where part of the problem was. After attending five meetings/phone calls with the company, the CEO was not on time to a single one nor did he did not have a single action item from the prior meeting accomplished. His response, “Well I don’t count, I have so much going on as owner of the company.” It starts with the leadership, goes full circle and ends with the leadership.
Effects of accountability in an organization
Think about the people you trust in your life. You can depend on them in the good times and the bad. You know they’ll have your back if you’re ever in a crisis. You also know that they will do what they say they’re going to do. That’s exactly how employees want to perceive their leaders. Employee engagement goes down if the staff is unable to trust their leader to accept actions and correction.
Leaders who uphold the organization’s core values inspire their employees to emulate those same values. They create a culture of trust and accountability at every level, not just at the top. At review meetings, managers should ask individuals to self-assess their results and identify the reasons for missing the mark on a goal or not accomplishing a task they were assigned (not allowing them to point fingers externally or internally). An accountable organization gives a feeling of security and fosters creativity and initiative.
Ways to become an accountable leader
Becoming an accountable leader starts with the willingness to be held accountable. You must allow yourself to be met with criticism and the consequences of your mistakes and failures. And when your actions produce positive results, you should just as well take credit for your actions.
Have a transparent system in place to check up on your activities, composed of both internal and external individuals. Internal examiners will quickly spot any shortcomings in your routine as they interact with you daily. Those from outside your organization will notice things from an objective perspective.
An honest person won’t have any problem with being accountable, as long as they accept responsibility and keep a check on themselves. When you become an accountable leader, your organization will follow in your footsteps, and staff engagement and team alignment will consequently rise.