I see this repeatedly, where leaders, especially new leaders, are quick to call out members of their team and employees as not being accountable and responsible. Let's be fair. Accountability is not given. It's a journey, and leaders have a clear role in creating a culture of accountability. Let's start with some basic definitions. Responsibility is the duty to perform a certain task assigned to me.
On the other hand, accountability is an individual acknowledgment and internalization of a sense of ownership for a certain task and the willingness to face the consequences that come with success or failure. It's important to distinguish both. Accountability is personal, and people need to feel it. People go through two stages that lead towards accountability. It's different for everyone, and many external factors can influence a person's journey through these stages. Let's go through them:
- Engagement: Employees need to be engaged cognitively, emotionally, and at a behavioral level. They want to feel like they are contributing to something much bigger than themselves. They need to feel like they can make their own decisions and apply their thought process. Create moments that enable employees to be fully engaged.
- Empowerment: Many organizations don't get this. Empower your employees to make difficult decisions. Teach your teams how to make difficult decisions aligned to the company's mission and operational procedures. Tell your employees what you need from them. Set clear goals, and explain how you're going to measure their success. Most important. Let them ask questions.
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In the episode, I'll tackle how to deal with difficult people.