Accountability is a commitment to follow through on what has been agreed upon and to take ownership of the outcome. This concept is at the very heart of organizational effectiveness. The most successful organizations are those in which every leader, team, and individual is fully accountable and delivers on their commitments. Here is a quick look at the 6 steps to becoming a more accountable leader, teammate, and individual contributor.
1. Ensure clarity between all involved parties
Clarity is key when building accountability in a project or process. Clearly outlining each person’s role will maximize clarity around who is responsible for each task and will increase the cohesion of the team.
2. Come to an agreement
It’s imperative that everyone is on the same page regarding expected outcomes. If a collective agreement concerning deliverables can be reached, it will empower each person to take ownership over their part.
3. Establish available freedom
Individuals are inclined to have higher degrees of accountability when they better understand their levels of autonomy and agency. Make sure that everyone has everything they need to be successful for the task ahead: tools to get the job done, oversight and support when required, and a clear understanding of their freedom to complete the task as they see fit.
4. Outline the consequences up front
Things will, on occasion, not work out the way you intended. Part of accountability is taking responsibility for an outcome gone awry, and to take initiative to correct the situation. Before commencing a task, make sure everyone understands the expectation set before them, as well as the potential implications. Understanding the full picture will help people take full ownership of their task and mitigate those challenges.
5. Determine—and communicate—a hierarchy of action
When discussing accountabilities, it is essential to know which items should be given the highest priority. Delivering on a relatively unimportant commitment at the expense of a more important one could be fatal. Therefore, before beginning tasks, spend time organizing accountabilities hierarchically, and ensure that they are aligned with the goals set by your organization, your leader, and yourself.
6. Consistently deliver on the details
Consistency of delivering on committed outcomes demonstrates accountability and builds trust like few other things. Take steps to consistently guarantee that you deliver on your accountabilities.