“Holding others accountable” has become a popular expression across the culture, but what does it really mean?
When a team member or leader accepts the obligation of achieving a specific outcome, they become accountable. By owning the result, they commit to perform and to achieve the desired end state. In the words of one leadership expert, “Accountability is the glue that ties commitment to the result.”
Without team members and leaders who are accountable, organizations would spin their wheels in the sand.
To prosper, leaders in the best organizations and teams do everything they can to institute a culture of accountability. In a culture replete with accountability, every team member feels some ownership and responsibility for the larger results. More importantly, they feel accountable to each other.
When accountability pervades a culture, it isn’t leaders who carry the strongest flame, but peers. Organizations that expect peers to engage openly and candidly about any and all performance unleash a tornado of personal responsibility.
When everyone knows they are expected to call others out when they observe any lack of commitment or sub-par performance, the entire organization of team members becomes accountable to each other.
Surprisingly to some, this doesn’t produce a negative work climate or a highly confrontational atmosphere. Quite the contrary. When everyone is truly accountable to each other, relationships become deeply caring and get even stronger.
It is often said that great teams are made up of members who refuse to let each other down. This is exactly the case when it comes to creating a culture of accountability.
What is required to create such a workplace includes leaders who are, themselves, open and candid with each other. They then need to extend this expectation to each and every team member across the organization. They do this by inviting everyone to hold performance standards and a profound commitment to each other as the highest priorities. Nothing else can matter as much.
Once leaders demonstrate with their own actions that they will tolerate nothing less than frank and honest assessments of all performance, including their own, a culture of accountability has a great chance to emerge. For organizations, accountability and culture are destiny.
Holding others accountable--should start with holding ourselves accountable.
What can throw this off?
If the company is trying to turn the tanker of culture around to this, a well-placed person who loves compliance more than people might erode the attempt at building trust here?