Accountability is the binding strength of interdependent relationships at work. We simply must hold people accountable. But for accountability to be legitimate, to have integrity, accountability has to start with ourselves. We have to begin by holding ourselves accountable and being open to being held accountable by all our constituents.
The most effective leaders are clear in their expectations of others, and they consistently hold others accountable for those expectations. One of their expectations of others is to also be held accountable. “If you are not holding me accountable for my role as your leader, you are not assuming full responsibility for your legitimate role in our relationship.” For purposeful leaders and followers, that posture of accountability is enabling rather than threatening.
Accountability should not be about “blaming and flaming” when things go wrong. It should be about helping our partners keep their promises and deliver acceptable if not impressive performance. In healthy work relationships, we want to help each other live up to our reciprocal expectations.
Accountability also means not looking the other way when it matters. When bad things happen at work, someone needs to step forward and say something. That someone is you, even if you know it might be painful. Say what needs to be said, and whenever possible, offer to assume responsibility for being part of the solution.
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