Updated: Jun 18, 2020
Accountability is a hot topic these days, whether talking police, priests or the use of personal protective equipment. Accountability is defined as an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility for one’s actions. At the core, it is a question of performance. How does an organization, leader or individual perform relative to what is expected by critical stakeholders?
Organizationally, accountability measures how well an entity meets the agreed upon expectations of all stakeholders, not only shareholders or people in power. These may include employees, customers and community members. Companies must ask themselves, “What processes have we put into place for success across the continuum of stakeholders?” Accountability can only be achieved once objectives have been clearly defined and agreed to. Leaders then have what they need to translate priorities into meaningful actions.
Leaders must be held accountable for how well they connect the dots between large organizational objectives and individual/departmental performance. It is a leader’s responsibility to hold people to agreed-upon expectations, both in what is said and done. Have the impacts of success or failure been communicated? Is feedback provided on a timely basis and are consequences delivered? This will result in either continued good performance or improvement of poor performance.
Accountability is a human challenge impacting every aspect of society. Police accountability is in its current state because dangerous individual behaviors were not addressed early and consistently. Lack of effective corrective actions improved the chances of continued bad behaviors. Over the years, whistleblower protections had to be implemented in various industries including the government because internal processes did not exist or there was no desire to identify and address accountability challenges.
Moving forward, the promise for improvement is in my belief that the great majority of people want to do the right thing and be held appropriately accountable for their statements and behaviors. They want to be part of a future that holds individuals and institutions responsible for what is within their control. The work now is in clearly establishing the expectations of accountability for all, including leaders and organizations.
It is well known that no matter what is said or done, not everyone will be pleased. However, what can be controlled is whom you do please. My suggestion is to reward the more accountable, higher performer who accepts responsibility for their actions and has the desire to improve.
“It is wrong and immoral to seek to escape the consequences of one's acts.”
― Mahatma Gandhi