I read a letter to the editor in our local paper this morning that included the sentence . .
I urge parents of all children in the district to be activist parents and hold their public schools accountable for the quality of services their children are receiving.
Too often I see the word accountable held up as an initiative that is, in itself, the way to fix a business. I then look for what words appear around it to suggest what else needs to be happening to build this accountability. In this sentence you will see the words activist / hold / quality. So what do you think will be the next step in the minds of the people reading this sentence?
Accountability is important in business, performance, and life – but the words around it are probably more important.
I will do more for you if I respect you and feel your commitment to helping me be successful. I will perform better for you if I get a chance to share my thoughts or if I am invited to a team to solve a problem together. Great teams have accountability, but they also have trust, a shared sense of commitment, and the willingness to listen, to forgive, and to fix.
As a coach, clients will often express the accountability they feel knowing that I will ask the question “What has happened with your commitments since the last time we talked?”, which is good. What I remind them is that there is lots of learning to happen in commitments that do not get done, and rather than feel guilty and view a coach as the accountability police, see me as a partner to explore, understand, and to solve. Great accountability also has a element of safety.
Feel free to use the word accountability as a leader, but I challenge you to examine the words around it first.