July 29, 2021
How is the issue of personal accountability viewed in your organization? Seasoned workers have undoubtedly seen their share of finger-pointing, dishonesty, and “CYOA.” However, personal accountability is a critical step toward improving leadership. When people are accountable for their own decisions, work, and results, the effectiveness of an organization can greatly increase.
One of the greatest issues in accountability stems from the amount of control people actually possess in their work. When employees are in control of the what, when, and how of a decision, their accountability is sky-high. On the other hand, when others are in control of how work gets done, accountability significantly decreases. Studies on control and influence in autocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire organizations show that the most effective organizations have teams where everyone feels they have influence. When people feel like their voice is heard, their investment in their work increases far more than when they’re being told what to do and exactly how to do it.
The second issue we researched was the way leadership behaviors could promote a greater sense of accountability in others. Intuitively, leaders might think that demanding accountability, letting others make the decisions, or giving pep talks would make the difference. However, our experience is that none of these tactics work very well and all are suboptimal choices. Instead, we looked at 360-degree assessments from 40,000 leaders and examined leaders who scored in the 90th percentile on effectiveness for accountability. When I looked at these exceptional leaders’ behaviors I found eight that were linked to high personal accountability. They are as follows:
These are not factors that will build accountability. In contrast, the three pillars that build trust are positive relationships, knowledge, and consistency of leaders.
On the long personal and organizational “to do” list, accountability should be at the top of the list. If you see a fatal flaw in yourself or your current leaders on any of these eight points, you should address it immediately. In fact, the single greatest way to leverage accountability is to pick a few of these key behaviors to work on yourself. Why? The research is clear on this issue: great accountability in the organization begins with you.
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(This article first appeared on Forbes)
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