Blame or Accountability?

Accountability may be one of the most misunderstood concepts in business, as well as life in general.

And the misunderstanding is twofold:

First, most of us associate BLAME with accountability, but they are, in fact, quite different.

Blame is defined by the Cambridge English Dictionary as “the situation in which people say or think that someone or something did something wrong or is responsible for something bad happening”.

Cambridge defines accountability as “the fact of being responsible for what you do and able to give a satisfactory reason for it”.

Not the same, are they?

To begin with, blame assumes that something is wrong, while this is not the case with accountability.

Whether you are blaming yourself or others, blame is an inherently accusatory and negative concept. In my experience, it rarely produces long-lasting results, let alone growth.

Second, while blame can be conferred on someone else, accountability is engagement and ownership we impose on ourselves. I cannot hold you accountable if you do not do so yourself.

As a leader, it is essential that you hold yourself accountable. You are first and foremost accountable to yourself; to do your best to keep the intentions and promises you make to yourself. You have also most likely made yourself accountable to your own board and/or CEO for results and initiatives.

But in order to inspire your team to hold themselves accountable for their own responsibilities, you will need to demonstrate that you are accountable to them.

Communicate your own commitments and responsibilities to your employees, as appropriate. Keep them updated as to progress – or lack thereof. You are not only modeling behavior you wish them to emulate but setting the stage for institutionalizing accountability into the organization. 

And that’s when the real magic happens; when all employees in an organization hold themselves accountable for and take ownership in the performance of the company. At Momentum, we have been privileged to help scores of leaders ensure their culture makes employees feel engaged in their work, therefore driving and sustaining greater performance and more revenue.

“…a sense of ownership is the most powerful weapon a team or organization can have”Pat Summitt

Personally, I hold myself accountable for offering ideas here that are helpful, inspiring or both. Did this post fit that criteria?

FOW #12: Be Accountable

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.


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