Regardless of the industry, organizational success depends not only on the organization’s accountability to its customers and clients, but also accountability of the individual. Several years ago, I was completing a walk-through completing an organizational assessment with a large organization. In my humble opinion, much can be conjectured about accountability from a basic observation.

In this particular instance,  this was a repeat visit to the organization. As I was getting a cup of coffee,  I noticed that the same holiday bread was on the counter, in the exact same place, as it was a month ago when I was visiting. It was now February and although it still looked fairly edible, it was still there.

Readers might suggest that is not a big deal, that everyone gets busy and small things gets pushed under the rug. What really happens though is everyone thinks someone else is going to do and thus, tossing of the holiday bread never happens. This is called the bystander effect and does impact personal initiative and accountability. For whatever reason, though, the bread is still there, until someone is directed by an accountable person in charge to throw it away, or an accountable individual, personally interested in and committed to the cleanliness of the workplace, takes the initiative to throw it away.

So what is accountability? There is quite a bit of literature and research on accountability. What I am defining is what accountability people do. What are the attributes and how do I know if I am accountable?

I find these 13 attributes in accountable individuals. Accountable individuals are or have:                     personal accountability

  1. Responsible
  2. Disciplined
  3. Persistent
  4. Resourceful
  5. Integrity
  6. Follow-up
  7. Follow-through
  8. Feedback
  9. Initiative
  10. Ownership
  11. Dependable
  12. Reliable
  13. Determined

It is most interesting that when there is lack of accountability we see it immediately. We know when work is not done in a timely manner, when people act as victims of situations or blame others on their lot in life. When accountability IS present though, we don’t describe an organization, team or individual as highly accountable. We use other words to describe their performance from Excellent, Exceeds Expectations to the usual and customary “awesome” in today’s language.  We see positive results.

I personally can’t remember a time when I actually used the word “accountable” to describe even a friend. I just know they are or they aren’t. 

So, Just for Today, look around you.

1) Think about your team at work or in your volunteer organization. Identify at least one person who you feel is highly accountable. What characteristics do they possess?

2) Identify at least one person in your Spiritual, Mental, Emotional, Physical and Social domains who you feel is highly accountable. What characteristics do they possess?

2) Look into yourself. Take the Personal Accountability Self-Assessment. Think about score. How accountable do others see you and how accountable are you to yourself?


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