Act like you are an owner in the company. Ownership accountability means holding yourself to account, holding others to account, and the willingness to be held to account.

For this fundamental to be effectively put into action, as a leader you have to be willing to give your direct reports the autonomy they would need to act as an owner in day-to-day decision-making. And if they make a decision that ends up looking like a mistake how do you proceed? Well, most of the feedback we get in working with teams is that their autonomy gets taken away in those situations, as a sort of punishment for making the wrong decision. This undermines and demeans your workforce and greatly reduces their engagement within the organization. The whole point of empowering accountability through autonomy, in the first place, is to raise engagement and improve productivity.

As we know, the real opportunity in any mistake is to learn from it. So, as a leader, you must be ready to own the decision with your direct report and first start with holding yourself accountable. And rightly, you are the one who gave them the autonomy needed in order to make the decision. This includes the discipline to allow for a different decision than you would make yourself, what you may view as a mistake.

If you do this authentically, you can bridge the gap to holding another accountable for their decision. It’s important that this is done without blame. Otherwise, you’ve lost the whole point. As leaders we have the opportunity to model ownership mentality over and over again by making it a part of who we are, not just some technique we employee because it’s supposed to work.

Consider the possibility that there is
No accountability in blame,
And no blame in accountability

When we make the shift from the automatic response of blaming to having ourselves firmly planted in accountability as a way of being in the world, we discover whole new possibilities. This includes getting the chance to fully embrace the closely related Fundamental #18: PRACTICE BLAMELESS PROBLEM SOLVING. Your direct report then transforms into a work partner and steps up to own the mistake with you. This then makes it possible for her or him to be willing to be held to account. What’s more, they naturally become an owner of the situation and ultimately in future outcomes within the company.

Be accountable. Sounds easy right? Well, it is simple, just not always easy; given it is a life-long learning practice. If you keep looking for ways to practice ownership accountability, we promise, you will begin to reap the benefits of creating work partners within your teams…and that makes it all worth it.

All my best, Marlene