Accountability starts at the top

Accountability – that quality of personal responsibility and ownership – can be difficult to establish and easy to lose. It’s also more elusive than you might think in today’s business world. A Harvard Business Review survey shows that almost 50% of managers are terrible at accountability. That’s not surprising, because accountability isn’t something you can do by halves. No executive or business can be “sort of accountable”. It requires a commitment from the top and adoption throughout the organisation.

The term “accountability” often carries the negative connotation of the person who is to blame when something goes wrong. We see it differently: it’s the ability of a person to provide focus on an initiative, make the necessary decisions, and garner support from their organisation to achieve success.

Accountability must be built into a corporate culture. It’s in the operating rhythm of how high-performing companies work. Everyone must trust that their colleagues will complete projects, and to a high degree of quality, for everyone to be successful.

Let’s look at five ways to make accountability part of your business world.

1. Be reliable and consistent

Do what you say you’re going to do, and expect the same of others. The path to accountability is through consistency, predictability and follow-up. As leaders, we need to be accountable in terms of providing interim guidance throughout the project, not just at the end.


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