Accountability is essential for success in any organization, team, or group. But what exactly is accountability, and why is it so important?
This blog will dive into the importance of accountability and how to become an accountable leader. We will discuss why setting SMART goals is essential for creating an accountable culture, and how to anchor accountability in your organization’s values, principles, and purpose. Let’s get started!
What is Accountability?
Accountability is when we hold ourselves and others responsible for our actions and decisions. When we are accountable, we take ownership of both our mistakes and successes, striving to improve our performance. Accountability helps create an environment of trust and motivation; it is also essential for creating a culture of continuous learning and improvement.
Unfortunately, many organizations and teams lack accountability, which leads to employees becoming complacent and disengaged. But before stating there is a lack of accountability on your team, check first by asking the following question: does my team clearly understand my expectations?
SMART Goals Enhance Accountability
If the answer is no, then set SMART goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
For example, let us say you are trying to increase client satisfaction. You could set a goal to increase client satisfaction by 10% in the next six months. This goal is:
- Specific (increase client satisfaction by 10%)
- Measurable (by tracking client satisfaction surveys)
- Achievable (10% is a realistic target)
- Relevant (client satisfaction is a key metric for any business)
- Time-bound (six months)
When team members have clear, measurable goals to work toward, it encourages them to take ownership of their work and be accountable for their results. It is also important to make sure goals are achievable; if they are too ambitious, team members can become discouraged and unmotivated.
Prepare for Crucial Conversations to Strengthen Accountability
To hold each other accountable, teams need to be able to engage in “Crucial Conversations.” These are conversations that deal with tough topics where opinions vary and emotions run strong.
Crucial Conversations is a concept pioneered by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler. We tend to avoid Crucial Conversations at work. However, it is important to learn how to manage them productively and positively so that accountability can be strengthened.
Use these seven steps to create successful Crucial Conversations that lead to accountability.
- Start with the heart: Focus on healthy goals like learning, finding the truth, and strengthening relationships. Why are you having this conversation? Because you’re angry and want to prove your point? Or because you want to improve your working relationship? Focus on healthy goals like learning, finding the truth, and/or strengthening relationships.
- Master your story: Stick to concrete facts and avoid judgments about those facts. Instead of saying, “You’re late, again,” try saying “This is the 3rd time you’ve been late in 3 weeks. What’s causing these delays?”
- Learn to look: Look at your role in the situation before accusing the other person. How have you contributed to the problem, and how can you improve it?
- Make it safe: While engaging in Crucial Conversations, create safety; this includes being fully present without distractions and avoiding dangerous phrases, such as “You always do this” or “You never do that.”
- State your path: Create an environment where asking for help is encouraged. State how you would like the issue to be resolved and ask for help in finding that solution.
- Explore the other’s path: Looking at the other person’s perspective calms the conversation and helps move the discussion in the right direction.
- Move to action: What action steps have you both agreed to and how will you ensure those steps take root?
Accountable leaders are essential for creating an accountable culture. Leaders set the tone for their teams and organizations, and they are responsible for setting expectations, holding people accountable, admitting mistakes, and striving to continuously improve performance.
Having the right systems and processes in place is crucial. This includes having tools to track progress, measure performance, and hold people accountable. Giving regular feedback and inviting bottom-up feedback strengthens accountability across the team and the organization.
If you want to become an accountable leader, start by setting SMART goals for your team and organization. Then, make sure your team has the right systems and processes in place to track progress and measure performance. Engage in Crucial Conversations about tough topics where the stakes are high, the opinions vary, and the emotions run strong. Finally, anchor accountability in your organization’s values, principles, and purpose. With these steps, you can create an accountable culture that inspires and motivates your team.