Accountability is apparently a big problem. A 2013 survey of leaders by AMA Enterprise, a division of the American Management Association® reported that:
The strategies and steps for ensuring accountability are not new.
And yet, the challenge of accountability continues.
Conventional wisdom is that accountability is a worker problem. Participants in my management and leadership programs lament the declining work ethic, decreased loyalty, and lack of pride in the work. They talk of employees who merely rent their jobs rather than taking ownership for them. For them, the solution is for managers to get tougher and dole out discipline to get their workers’ attention.
What if conventional wisdom about accountability is wrong? What if the problem isn’t employees? What if the lack of accountability is a leadership problem? And, what if that problem is rooted in how leaders think about their role in helping others succeed?
The difference between the leaders who inspire ownership and those from whom employees merely trade time for money has less to do with strategies and techniques and more to do with the mindset with which they approach their responsibilities. The best leaders are guided by the following beliefs:
Does It Work?
Think of a teacher, mentor, or coach who meant a great deal to you and answer the following questions:
One last question: Was your response to them and performance based on the authority of their position or on your relationship?
Leaders who struggle with the accountability of others view their job as mandating compliance from people who don’t want to do a good job. Those who get accountability right know that most people want to do great work. They view their job as creating an environment where commitment and self-discipline are volunteered.
Here are three things you can do right now to build a culture of volunteered accountability:
Employees show up on their first day at work wanting to take ownership and succeed. Somewhere along the way, there are those who decide to do as little as possible and shirk their responsibility. That happens because leaders assume that accountability is something to be mandated, rather than nurtured and volunteered.