Most people think of accountability as taking responsibility for one’s own actions. While this is true, leaders need to think beyond that. After all, effective leaders aren’t just responsible for their own performance – they need to consider the organization and group as a whole. We believe that leadership accountability has three components: individual responsibility, organizational discipline and interpersonal accountability.
- Individual responsibility is the aspect most people think of. It’s the responsibility for getting what you committed to doing and what you need to do for your job done each day. For a computer programmer that might be developing x type of product or producing y lines of good code. What differentiates a “leader” from the typical employee is increased visibility (and liability) for everything in their organization. This reality adds a few extra responsibilities unique to a leader’s purview.
- Organizational discipline: Leaders establish the processes, culture and expectations that govern any group or business. They forge these norms through explicit and implicit behavior, and will be held accountable for both. Good leaders understand this reality early on by setting a vision and then building a structure to achieve it. The organization needs resources and processes to help realize any vision.
- Interpersonal accountability is centered on feedback. One of the primary responsibilities of any leader is to deliver (and solicit) both praise and constructive criticism consistently. This feels scary to many people but properly done, it shouldn’t. Feedback is a powerful tool but one easily misused if there is a culture of blame and mistrust. A trusting and blame-free culture of feedback allows organizations to more quickly respond to issues and lets people know where they stand. Endorsing a culture of feedback will result in a healthy, blame-free organization poised to thrive well into the future.
Where do you see accountability working and not working in your organization?