The Word of the Month for October: ACCOUNTABILITY
Accountability: the quality or state of being accountable especially: an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions.
Early in my career, I vulnerably admit that rather than facing accountability head-on, I always looked to prove why I was right or why I wasn’t to blame. Taking responsibility for your actions which lead to a negative outcome isn’t easy. It means that you were wrong and to you that might equal failure. We can be quick to blame others or to get our backs up against the wall. We sometimes resort to argumentative and elevated tones in our voice which can result in poor communication and poor relationships with co-workers, at home and with customers/clients. How did I go from being someone who was somewhat fearful of being wrong to someone who handles it as an opportunity?
Here are 5 reasons to be more open to accountability and why taking accountability for your actions benefits you and your entire team:
- If you’re too busy feeling shame and blaming everyone else, you fail to see the results of those actions. If you were wrong, admit that you were wrong. If you misunderstood and may have assumed, fess up. If you messed up, admit to it quickly and figure out how to avoid the same thing happening again. Failure, in any form, allows us to grow and trying to prove you weren’t in the wrong can cause you to focus on the problem instead of the solution.
- Whether the situation involves a client, a personal contact or a co-worker, blaming someone else is sure to affect that relationship. Self-preservation might lead you to making an issue someone else’s problem but I can assure you that your relationship with that person will never be the same because of it. Ask yourself, is this worth losing a client, a friend or the trust in your relationship with your co-worker. The answer will likely be ‘no’ every single time.
- Take the high road. Whether or not anyone else is involved in the situation, own up to your part in the error. Regardless of what others do, always admit to your fault in the outcome. You’ll emerge as a leader (regardless of your position) and others will slowly but surely understand that your ethics and values are based on honesty. You’ll likely help others discover the power of accountability as well.
- You could be the reason the same thing never happens again. By staying true to the situation and focusing on a solution, you’ll likely be the reason a policy or procedure is born or changed, ensuring that the situation never happens again. That’s not only great for you, it’s also great for everyone else who benefits from the knowledge you’ve gained.
- You’ll be viewed as an honest person by those who matter the most. When you run a company, you identify quickly who takes ownership of their errors and who tries to ‘pin it’ on anyone else. As an employer, I can tell you that I much prefer the person who’s honest and accepts the fault. Personally, these are the people I want working on our team. They prove to me that being ‘selfish’ or ‘defensive’ isn’t in their nature and those are the people I want to take to the next level.
What I know now is that accountability goes hand in hand with moving on from the problem and moving into a solution-focused approach. Running a rapid-growth software company means that I don’t have the time to deal with ‘who did it’. I want to know that whatever happened will never happen again. It’s as simple as that. Let’s figure out the ‘why’ and come up with a way to avoid the same occurrence in the future. Accountability as a part of our work culture guarantees that our team will be humble and have the opportunity to learn and grow personally and professionally.
So… ‘yes, I did it’. Now, let’s move on.