Accountability is defined as a personal choice to rise above one’s circumstances and to demonstrate the ownership necessary to achieving the key results. Often accountability is confused with responsibility yet the two are separate roles. Accountability gives assurance that organizations are willing to be evaluated by stakeholders on their responsibilities, actions and behaviors. Accountability clearly is crucial to workplace success and without accountability organizations’ future and current goals are jeopardized.
The cancer in most organizations especially during times of economic recession is the “them” and “us” mentality. This is a cliché in most organizations which has resulted in blame games with no one taking ownership of anything and willing to go the extra mile. Oftentimes as leaders we complain about employees’ lack of accountability, but such problems are more likely due to lack of responsibility as the leadership. Once leadership shows signs of disengagement during challenging times this will result in the majority of the workforce not wanting to rise above these circumstances. Leaders must send clear and unequivocal messages to the team and show by example that achieving organizations’ goals is every team members’ responsibility.
Accountability in leaders requires a mental shift in the workplaces. Leadership needs to make positive choices/ decisions that they act upon. Employees need to feel empowered to make decisions within their role parameters to encourage accountability. Leaders, when we demonstrate accountability, we become an inspiration to others to exude the same traits.
When leaders embrace accountability to change those unfavorable circumstances in organizations productivity increases as teams view this as a commitment to overcome and achieve. However, we need to be cognizant that the key number one factor to change is yourself. If we are to continually think the little benefits realized by the organization should be for the top echelons only, then clearly, we are far from being accountable. With this approach winning with people remains a fad. Why, because for leaders to win with people there is need to celebrate success with the team.
It is also true in the world of truism that one cannot give what they do not have. This may mean that as a leader you are only able to take a person as far as you have gone yourself. This is precisely why developing accountability in leaders and even in employees remains the biggest challenge for most leaders. Leaders who do not know their values, resultantly breed unaccountability. Organizations are suffering from accountability challenges because leadership lacks it, do not believe in it hence fail to practice it.
In this game, being accountable has nothing to do with your level of confidence or the amount of salary you get – no its your value. What personal value do you embrace as a person? Who you are is the greatest asset you will ever possess. Lack of discipline in leaders is cited as another challenge to accountability. Once your personal values are integrated with corporate values, disciple follows as one tries to achieve desired outcomes. Disciple in itself can lead to accountability for leader because no matter how much power and authority they have they will demonstrate ownership.
Communication gap can be another contributing factor. Employees have witnessed leaders at all levels in organizations that do not respond to communication and starve the team of information. Meaningful communication inspires positive attitudes towards work. Some managers set unclear priorities yet successful enterprises need major objectives to act as beacons that guide all. Low morale can manifest due to lack of accountability in a variety of ways, but it normally stems from inadequate and ineffective communication. Accountable leaders make the workplace a more collaborative and authentic space where employees feel respected hence there is need to learn to communicate more effectively and often.
Disengaged employees fail to connect their day to day work with the organization key results. Usually where there is a gap between desired and the critical, it is only positive accountability that bridges it. In trying to bridge this gap avoid punitive and reactionary measures. Positive accountability champions individuals and teams recognizing them for their good work and encouraging everyone to work together to hit performance targets. A low level of trust contributes to negative relationships among colleagues and across the organization.
In conclusion, once we commit to accountability as organizations, we will make well informed decisions whose consequences we will try to anticipate. High organization expectations drive leaders to inspire their teams and when you know others are taking their lead from you; accountability ceases to be a choice. It is accountability that keeps our focus on customer satisfaction, staff engagement and the need to continuously improve. Leaders today should know that accountability creates a culture of trust and engagement and exceptional performance hence the need for effective practices and mindset change.
Emmanuel Jinda is the Managing Consultant of PROSERVE Consulting Group, a leading supplier of Professional Human Resources and Management services locally, regionally and internationally. He can be contacted at Tel: 263 773004143 or 263 242 772778 or visit our website at www.proservehr.com