I heard a good quote once around accountability… “You either make yourself accountable or you will be made accountable by your circumstances.” Basically, you either embody self-accountability or the world will deliver you a big chunk of accountability pie. Trust me, this is no way in which to operate, because your superiors, peers, clients, subordinates, etc., will not respect you nor trust you. People who lack accountability thrive in the realm of excuses. By and large most failures come from people who have a habit of making excuses. This is a confidence killer for those on the receiving end of their excuses.
My dad had three main rules for we four sons growing up. First, was respect. You did not disrespect your parents nor any other adults. Second, was work ethic. Everyone was expected to pull their own weight. No excuses! Third, was accountability which breeds response-ability. The key with all three of these principled attributes is that they start with you. How can you rightly hold anyone else accountable if you aren’t holding yourself to the same standard, especially as a leader. If someone is in a lead capacity and tries to skirt their accountability, they will lose their teams trust in a hurry. Plus, accountability is not some one-time event. It’s fluid and in play all the time.
If we hold ourselves accountable as individuals within the greater organizational whole, we empower our talented individuals to express their unique genius as part of a greater team. Accountability applies to everyone. No favorites. Years ago, I had become friends with one of our developers. He was the kind guy that I would have become friends with no matter the setting. Then he began to take advantage of our friendship by coming in later than what I considered acceptable. Eventually, I pulled him aside and said, “They’re no sacred cows here. Not me, not you, not anyone. Don’t expect favoritism and don’t take advantage of our friendship.” He was a little caught by surprise but understood. We remain friends to this day.
Sometimes we must hold people accountable. It's not always easy, but it’s part of a greater management policy of holding everyone involved accountable. This includes other leaders, managers, subordinates, partners, vendors, and clients. If people aren’t held accountable, and things start to go south, they don’t feel the level of ownership needed, so they go into spectator mode and watch things fail. This is 100 per cent unacceptable. When things go awry, accountable people step up into solution mode. I cannot overstate the importance of instilling multi-faceted, multi-directional accountability. It’s the single biggest differentiator between successful and unsuccessful teams.