What do you see when you look at your organization? Employees stepping up and taking responsibility? Or employees playing the blame game and pointing fingers at others. How do you stop the blame game and start getting accountability? Stay tuned.

One of the questions I often hear from leaders is “How do we build a culture of accountability in our organization?” First I want to define accountability—to personally take ownership or accept responsibility for one’s actions, work, and results. It’s not assigning fault and handing out punishment, instead it’s propelling your employees to great success.

Have you really thought about where this starts? It starts with you, the leader. If you genuinely want your employees to take ownership, then YOU must take ownership first.

Why is this? Because if you’re in a position of authority, others will copy your behavior. If you keep your promises, they are more likely to do the same. And if you don’t, well, why would they?

Believe it or not, the potential for accountability lies within each of us. As leaders, we have the opportunity to help others unleash it by rewarding behaviors that demonstrate accountability and removing anything that stifles it.

How, as a leader, do you lead so that personal accountability is accepted and embraced? Here are three steps to ensure accountability becomes a part of your company culture:

Step #1 PEOPLE HAVE TO SEE IT —You, as the leader, have to be a role model. If your employees see you making excuses and shifting blame when you fail, they will follow suit. Instead, focus on fixing problems–admit when you’re wrong. Share with your team what you learned from your mistakes, and what you will do to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Step #2 PEOPLE HAVE TO OWN IT —A leader helps others to be personally invested in desired the organization’s outcomes or results. It’s done by linking their specific tasks and responsibilities first with the key priorities of the team, then the department or division, and finally up the line to the organization.

Step #3 PEOPLE HAVE TO SOLVE IT —Obstacles can always get in the way of achieving results. Yes, as a leader, the “buck does stop with you”. However, you don’t always need to be the one to find the solution. When employees ask you for a solution, don’t immediately offer one. Instead ask them “What do you think you/we should do?“ Or “What else can we do so this gets resolved?” Tapping into their wisdom and participation creates personal responsibility for the implementation of the solution.

The bottom line is that no organization can grow and prosper until the leaders are willing to step up and take responsibility. And being accountable goes back to that definition of “personally taking ownership and accepting responsibility for one’s actions, work, and results.”          

What you do matters. If you do it right, take credit. If others do it, give credit. And if you make a mistake, accept blame.

That is the secret to creating a culture of accountability: being an accountable person. Showing others that you do what you say you’re going to do and own it when things don’t go well. Encouraging others to take ownership of their work and encourage them even if they fail. And finally, allow others to be involved in the problem-solving process—or even suggesting they work to solve problems on their own.

Want more accountable employees? Take a look at yourself and the rest of your management team. If they care, your employees will care. And that will make all the difference.

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