Lessons on Accountability

two women meeting at table

Accountability is like getting a colonoscopy (so I am told!): Everybody knows it is best to have it done, yet no one wants it done to them.

As I have shared before, I went through a 360-degree review last fall. Those interviewed suggested that I hold other people more accountable. Since receiving my results right before Christmas, I have made a concerted effort to do so.

Here are some take-aways about holding other people accountable:

-I need accountability in all areas of my life, even in the area of holding other people accountable.

-Holding people accountable means first explaining what “success” looks like. Without crystal clear expectations, it is not only difficult to hold others accountable—it can be downright unfair.

The tendency is for people to want someone ELSE to hold OTHER people accountable. Thus, starting to hold people accountable begins with earning their trust.

-I can give anyone a title, but leadership is earned. This makes all the difference in accountability, because management often only creates change through policies, corporate discipline, and the like. It is change by “force.” But a good leader can impact someone’s entire life through influence. This means everything in accountability. If someone is only listening because they have to, real change is limited, and short-term.

-Accountability NEVER discounts the value and dignity of the human-being. In fact, the most humbling lesson I have learned is that the opposite, not holding someone accountable, is unkind, and even unloving. It is akin to saying to yourself, “I value my own comfort over the other person’s improvement as a person.”

This is only a sampling of what I have been learning.

If you consider yourself a leader, start by asking someone to hold you accountable. Then, work to create the trusting relationships with your followers that ensure them that you have their best interests in mind.

Once this kind of relationship is established, dive in. It is never easy, but I can promise that it is worth the effort.