Taking responsibility for one’s actions can be a challenge for many to accept. But for those who do, it’s a skill that can lead to success in business and life. Being able to maintain success principles that require transparency, and not shying away from obligations to answer for one’s activities is difficult. Accountability, just as polished communication skills, are increasingly sought-after in the workplace.

How to Define Accountability in a Nutshell

When you want to define accountability, we usually think regarding a leader in business, or within a family structure. In the business world, customers and competitors in an industry can reflect on companies who choose to be held accountable, rather than play the blame game.

Accountability is not solely about standing up and answering to others when things go wrong. The quality of being held accountable is about a commitment to being transparent, having clear directions with ideas, and being able to back up whatever decisions and results that follow from any given action.

A work environment where at every level the people involved in an organization believe in being held accountable for their contribution, decisions, and results helps improve leadership qualities. Allowing employees to have a more considerable amount of control over their choices, and work process when meeting a given objective helps increase employee effectiveness, productivity, and intrinsic motivation.

When employees only follow the orders given to them and feel they have no say or influence in their workplace, they lack the desire to be held accountable when something goes awry. It is more comfortable for people to give in to finger pointing or passing blame.

Employees who can act naturally, and have their ideas and work valued within a company, are more likely to hold themselves accountable for their actions.

The Quality of Being Accountable Exists Within Clarity

What is Accountability without direction? When it comes to inspiring others to be held accountable for their choices and following results, specific values must be present. People and organizations who show a higher level of accountability typically display the following qualities.

  • Can define the results desired for an objective.
  • Confidently displays that they are a source to be trusted.
  • Can be honest and open about whatever is going on at the moment.
  • Utilizes problem-solving when necessary.
  • Flexible enough to make changes when needed.
  • Can accept constructive feedback and not take things personally.
  • Has clear goals that they are seeking to achieve.

Who do we hold Accountable in various situations, and why is it essential to Define Accountable people by specific standards of behavior?

Defining intangible concepts are essential, so we can identify specific characteristics that contribute to positive or negative outcomes. When it comes to navigating decision-making, it is necessary to be able to determine how accountability plays a role in a party’s actions, thought process, and how outsiders who bear witness to whether a party acts accordingly is approved or not.

Setting a standard of acceptable behavior gives a foundation for organizations and businesses to adhere. Consumers who understand and agree to the rule of acceptable conduct, look for leaders within an industry, or companies alone to hold themselves accountable for the result of their actions at all times.

A failure to be held accountable leads to a breakdown in consumer trust devalues employee efforts and leads to a negative work environment.

Caution When Confusing Accountability for Other Values

Responsibility and accountability may also seem more like synonyms, although they are not. For an organization or individual to hold themselves accountable, there does require a sense of responsibility for actions taken.

However, beyond responsibility, accountability calls for an organization or individual to have intrinsic motivation to be transparent with their operations or behavior, and must act according to set principles that reflect their defined ethics.

Authority and accountability are also entirely different concepts. Yes, we may look to an authority figure to display accountability for their actions. But, authority is solely the power to make decisions. Although someone in a leadership position may be responsible for directing others to take specific steps, they may not be held accountable for the outcome.

Giving someone the role of being held accountable for an outcome requires stringent monitoring of the operations of an organization or an individual. If throughout a business, everyone feels that someone else will be accountable for their actions because they are just doing their job as directed, failure may be imminent.

Fostering an ethic of intrinsic accountability at every level of a business helps keeps things more even keel. When employees can have open forums on organization operations, are held accountable for their roles within a company, and build honesty, trust, and are willing to accept the input of others, more positive outcomes result.

The Principles and Qualities for Leadership Defined

Accountable individuals and organizations typically follow a few standards of behavior. Most accountable persons want to create positive results when taking action. And they often seek to project an image of security, trust, and that they are a benefit for an organization or their brand.

Great leaders are able to remain steadfast whether things are going well, or not so well no matter what. Having clear drive and determination, a willingness to adapt, and top-notch interpersonal skills help keep an accountable person sharp.

In business, mentors, owners, and anyone within an organization who holds significant influence and power in decision making want to foster a culture of accountability. Leadership and being held accountable can be a contagious quality, which encourages everyone involved at all levels within an organization to uphold a uniform standard.

When corruption, blame, and inability to hold oneself accountable occurs at the top levels of leadership within a business, it can trickle down and destroy a company from the inside out.

If managers and executives are unable to be held accountable for their performance on a task, or there is a failure to accept responsibility for an outcome and implement a remedy, a business and its employees fail.

According to Brandon Hall Group, a survey taken in 2014 showed that 34% global organizations felt that leaders were not held accountable for performance.

To be a successful leader, one must use the value of accountability to seek out where things need addressing. Accountability requires a thorough understanding of a business’s strengths, weaknesses, and operations. This step is taken to optimize all available resources to achieve positive results fully.

Accountability requires that leaders of an organization are willing to challenge traditions and standards, ask questions, and be willing to shake things up if needed.

These Four Strategies Increase Accountability in the Workplace

Leaders should be willing to review how they play a role in a situation and admit mistakes if made.

If something goes wrong, genuine apologies should be made, followed up by a working solution.

Any opportunities to learn, grow, and take input from others to make positive changes for an organization should take place. There are always better and more efficient ways to take action.

No promises should be given to complete a task unless there is certainty it achievable. Leaving things unfinished or poorly done lowers morale, destroys trust, and leads to poor reputations and work ethic.

Value or Mechanism?

Accountability holds two different views when it comes to ethics. Society chooses to define accountable as being a normative behavior that people and organizations should perform when necessary. Being an accountable person means that you are a leader, and are strong enough to commit to being transparent to build trust.

To be held accountable means being unafraid to deal with any backlash, judgments, or future decisions based on being able to take responsibility for one’s actions. Accountability is a quality that is sought-after in ethical organizations, officials and is a concept used to mitigate possible scandals or to take credit for positive outcomes.

Beyond looking at accountability as a value that is desired in leaders and businesses, there is the concept of being accountable as a mechanism. When examining deliberately bad business decisions with negative impact on consumers, or looking into a corrupt institution, accountability as a mechanism examines the operations within an institution or organization’s behavior.

How Accountability Boost Trust and Strengthens Relationships

Accountability is necessary for people to trust the people or organizations with whom they have a relationship. In business, just as in life, there are inherent risks when making decisions. When a decision needs to made that has a lot of influence or impact on something, sincere leaders are willing to be held accountable for their actions at all times.

Leaders who are successful impart a culture of owning individual and group success within a business. Employees who feel that their ideas, work, and input are valued increase the culture of accountability, and experience greater engagement and productivity at work.

Success in business requires a balance of being trustworthy, being responsible, maintaining secure networks, and being held accountable. Maintaining a business culture of accountability creates long-lasting successful outcomes and positivity.

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