We have all heard the term “holding people accountable”. I am not sure if that is possible in the true sense of the word. Webster says accountability is “the willingness to take responsibility for one’s actions”. So to be accountable you must first feel responsible. How can you give someone the feeling of willingness? So if I say “you are responsible for getting this done”. I have given an assignment but whether or not you feel any responsibility is another issue. I think the best we can do as leaders is to help people to be accountable. Here is how…
- Provide them with the proper context for the assignment; Why is it important? Why are you giving it to them instead of someone else? What are the consequences to the team if we fail to complete the assignment? (promotes willingness)
- Help them by guiding and planning the actions that will lead to successful completion of the assignment. After all if it is important to you, you should want it to succeed for your sake, right. So partner with them instead of dumping on them. (promotes action)
- Ask what kind of follow up support they will need to be successful e.g. information, networking, skill development, political cover etc. (promotes trust)
When people feel responsible, accountability is a natural outcome. If things start heading in the wrong direction they don’t throw up their hand in surrender but instead roll up their sleeves and get to work.
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