Accountability means more than just doing your job. Accountable people are responsible and powerful! Accountability includes an obligation to make things better, to pursue excellence, and to do things in ways that achieve results, further your goals and the goals of the organization.

This means that we can look at accountability from the perspective of the individual, the leader, the organization and even from the environment we are part of.

Lets first examine what it means for the individual. In short in means that you take responsibility for your own doings. You don’t just sit and wait for others to initiate, and you don’t run away from your responsibility when something goes wrong. It means that you pursue the individual performance agreements and do that little extra effort to achieve more. It means that you speak up when something is not right, and it means that people can trust you, because you keep your promises.

As a leader, it means that your people can trust you and that you keep your word and promises. It means that you consistently strive to become a better leader, and that you yourself deliver what you have to and that your people can count on you for support. It also means that you make your people accountable for their commitments and that you do follow up on a regular basis, with a committed effort to make your people perform.

As an organization it means that you put pride in continuous improvement and that you hold yourself accountable for the promises you make to your clients, and when something doesn’t work, you will be the first to admit responsibility. It means that you hold yourself accountable towards the employees of the organization and that you keep the promises you give them. It also means that you have clear targets for all, so that everyone knows how to hold themselves accountable and that you have a system for systematic follow up all the way through the system. It also means that if you have company values and slogans, that you do live them and that you are prepared to take action when someone is not living them, at all levels.

As a society we can also be accountable for what we do, and this is something that both organizations and politicians should remember. Many promises are given during time of elections, but few are kept. Perhaps more people talk about the lack of accountability in politicians and less in the leaders of their organization, but at the end of the day, if you keep your word and deliver on the what you have agreed on, you have already started to become an accountable person, and if you on top of that strive to become even better, you are doing great.

An easy way of recognizing someone who is accountable and someone who is not, is that the accountable person makes things happen and the opposite is the one who acts as the victim, saying it is not my responsibility and there is nothing I can do, comes up with excuses or blame others. So, the question is are you the victim or the empowered person who makes it happen?

Here are a few questions to help you become more accountable:

  • What are the areas where I am holding others responsible for my fate?
  • How can you take more ownership of your own situation in those areas?
  • What can I do to make myself more accountable for my performance?
  • What can I do to make myself more accountable for my actions and compliance?
  • What can I do to make myself more accountable for the quality of my work?