Accountability is the acknowledgement and assumption of responsibility for actions, decisions and policies encompassing the obligation to report, and be answerable for resulting consequences. It is a guiding principle that defines the working fundamentals to everything and every activity that are part of an organization. It is the nerve center that controls every part of an organization and affects all members and their relationship with each other. Accountability boils down to taking ownership of one’s own thoughts, words, actions, and reactions.
This book teaches the fundamentals to implement a culture of accountability. It highlights a serious problem prevalent in our society today, from the home to the workspace, from the school to the media, and not forgetting the government. Somehow, personal accountability and organizational accountability are seriously lacking in our world. Without personal accountability, there is no organizational accountability, and without that, businesses and organizations fail to reach their ultimate potential. Accountability means a commitment to meet or exceed agreed-to expectations while admitting mistakes and errors. Accountable people accept the consequences of the choices they make; they do what’s right just because it’s the right thing to do. It is really a cultural value that requires all team members to assume responsibility for their own and each other’s actions and to focus on the actions required at the individual and team level to improve everyone’s performance and therefore increase the performance of the organization.
There is probably nothing more important to effective management than a clearly defined, integrated set of processes. Defined to the actual work environment, clear processes effectively utilize all resources: human, mechanical, and financial, but if the people in the organization fail to implement those processes or fail to own the responsibility for accuracy and truth in their implementation, the processes fail the organization and its people.
Accountability systems are designed to instill discipline into a process, that is, produce the ability to consistently repeat good practices. Processes must be maintained, and a system of accountability provides the checks and balances to keep the process running. From top to bottom, from the CEO to the last employee on the organization chart, being accountable, both at work and away from work, is a cultural application that, once instilled, will improve productivity and build returns on investment tenfold.
To help groups and individuals work in ways that promote the desired outcomes, measures are developed to give feedback on how well or poorly that work is accomplishing the goals. Accountability is the best and most efficient way to instill organization-wide performance that keeps everyone on the same playing field. Accountability ensures that, despite the complexity of the work and the context in which it exists, individuals, groups, and, ultimately, the organization as a whole will understand their part in accomplishing the goals.
Accountability starts with the leader and must travel throughout the whole organization. Whether the organization embraces a culture of accountability or is in need of a reboot in this department, it all begins and ends with the leaders. Without full and unabated implementation of a cultural mind-set of accountability throughout, the attempt to change the culture will fail. We discuss why accountability is needed and how enterprises and their people benefit from creating a culture of accountability. Learn what it really means to have an organizational culture of accountability and see how to implement it in your business. It’s not a dirty word; it’s not a militaristic way of life. It’s not a discipline-driven culture. It’s one that sets the bar and signals to people that high performance is expected, recognized, and rewarded.
In these pages, we briefly discuss the lack of accountability in society in general, but we emphasize the work environment. We believe it is important to mention the impact of accountability or the lack of it in politics, schools, the media, and the home because it is a cancer that affects society in general. This cancer propagates into most areas of our lives and even into the business sector which is the main target of this book.
While establishing and implementing accountability can be seen as the hard side of management, the upside is unlimited. It establishes a culture of trust, openness, interdependence, self-confidence, achievement, appreciation, and energetic celebrations.
I’m a staunch promoter of accountability in society in general and in business in particular; my clients know how important the practice is for me and for them because I instill it in them. Some of them call me “Mr. Accountability,” and they gratefully acknowledge my help in making them and their organizations accountable.
Ambiguity is the enemy of accountability. Be certain in what you do, and accept failure as an accident, but don’t accept ineptitude as a condition.