Embracing Accountability:  Harvesting its Power in Yourself and Others

3 min read

Imagine a society where every decision we make is rooted in a deep understanding of choices and consequences, where we experience pride and increased self-confidence each time we keep our word. We would seek out and thrive in environments of continuous learning and growth. This concept of accountability extends far beyond individual actions; it is fundamental to shaping a culture that fosters a productive, engaging work environment.  Accountability matters. It is a gift we give ourselves and others.  

Being accountable is an essential pillar that upholds the integrity of any workplace and it is contagious! When accountability is embraced, it cultivates trust, encourages responsible behavior, engages positive attitudes, and ultimately contributes to the success of an organization. Employees who feel a sense of accountability are more likely to take ownership of their work, communicate transparently, and collaborate effectively with their colleagues.

However, research highlights a significant gap in most organizations’ ability to effectively implement accountability practices. According to studies, a staggering 82% of managers admit to having “limited to no” ability to hold others accountable successfully. This discrepancy is echoed by 91% of employees who believe that “effectively holding others accountable” is a critical leadership trait that needs development within their companies. So, what is the challenge?

The statistics paint a picture of disillusionment within the workforce. Only 14% of employees feel that their performance is managed in a way that truly motivates them, and 26% receive feedback less than once per year. Additionally, a mere 21% feel that their own performance metrics are within their control, while only 40% believe their managers hold them accountable for their goals. Furthermore, a concerning 70% of employees perceive their managers are subjectively (unfairly) evaluating their performance, by not clearly measuring what matters to the job, team, department, and organization. This leads to 69% of employees experiencing an inability to live up to their full potential at work.

This disconnect underscores the critical need for a renewed focus on accountability in the workplace. Now, the question arises: how can we bridge the gap between the reality of accountability and our perception of what it should look like?

The truth is, amidst these challenges lies an opportunity for real transformation. Embracing accountability offers a gift, not only to the organization and to leaders, but also to oneself. Here’s what accountability unleashes:

1. Personal Growth

Being accountable fosters personal growth by encouraging individuals to reflect on their actions and learn from their mistakes. It promotes an engaged learning mindset of continuous improvement and resilience.

2. Trust

In any relationship, professional or personal, accountability builds trust. When individuals hold themselves accountable, they demonstrate integrity and reliability, which strengthens connections with colleagues and stakeholders.

3. Culture of Excellence

When employees are empowered to take ownership of their work, higher productivity and innovation result. Organization leaders that prioritize accountability create a culture where pride, self-confidence, and excellence thrive.

4. Results

When individuals and teams embrace accountability, it translates into tangible results. Teams are engaged, goals are achieved more efficiently, and setbacks are seen as opportunities for growth rather than obstacles.

How Organizations and Individuals Can Take Actionable Steps:

1. Establish Clear Expectations

Define clear goals and expectations for individuals and teams, ensuring alignment with the organization’s mission and values. Take time to develop Key Performance Indicators (KPI).

2. Provide Regular Feedback

Map the “Touchpoints of Accountability” in your department, where important conversations provide clarity. Plan how to foster a culture of consistent, regular, formal and informal feedback, where constructive criticism is welcomed as learning opportunities, and recognition is given for achievements.

3. Lead By Example

Leaders must embody accountability themselves, setting the tone for the entire organization. Admitting mistakes and discussing the lessons learned is essential to laying a strong foundation for being accountable. Consistency in behavior and decision-making is key.

4. Invest in Development

Offer regular, customized training and learning resources to empower managers and employees with the skills needed to effectively implement accountability practices.

In conclusion, accountability is not merely a concept; it is a transformative force that has the potential to elevate individuals, teams, and organizations to new heights. By embracing accountability as a gift—one that fosters growth, increases self-confidence, engages teams, builds trust, and drives results—we pave the way for a more integrity-based, productive, and fulfilling work environment. It’s time to make accountability a cornerstone of our professional lives, not only for our own growth and success but for the betterment of those within our sphere of influence, too.

Stay tuned for more insights and tips on leadership development in future blog posts. Until next time, keep leading with purpose and passion!

Are you working on your leadership skills? Contact us about leadership training that can advance your career and business.

Dr. Cheri Rainey is the CEO/Founder of Rainey Leadership Learning, partnering with leaders to support the entire employee life cycle.