Accountability, in traditional environments, is about power. Who has it? How is it used? The teeth in traditional accountability is the power to reward and punish.
Accountability as pressure:
Short-sighted leaders use accountability to pressure people. The context of pressure is resistance.
Dependence on traditional accountability suggests people are already resistant.
Accountability is drawing out the best in others.
#1. Help people excel at what they want to do, not what you’re pressuring them to do.
People need new jobs when the things they want don’t serve organizational goals.
#2. Expect people to do what they say.
Hold people accountable to the commitments they impose on themselves, not the ones you impose on them.
#3. Focus on their power, not yours, when creating accountability.
Powerful people go further than powerless.
#4. Honor follow through.
#5. Call out inconsistency.
Mediocrity prevails when inconsistency wins the day.
#6. Discuss how people are depending on each other.
Ambiguity is the enemy of accountability.
Seven simple ways to create accountability:
- Reports and check-ins.
- “How is your project going,” asked at the water cooler.
- What would you like me to ask the next time we meet?
- What are you going to do next/today/this week?
- When are you taking your next step?
- What are you going to do?
Four essentials for healthy accountability:
- Shared passion to maximize talent.
- Shifts from external coercion to internal drive.
- Respect for success.
- Consequences for failure. One consequence might be removal of responsibilities.
A point of discomfort:
I’m troubled by reliance on promises and commitments. Reliance on promises suggests this time you really mean it; normally you don’t.
Accountability is about clarifying results and behaviors, not making promises.