Accountability, when discussed in organizations, usually focuses on employees as subordinates. Managers expect people to be accountable for the results of their work, as they should. A problem develops when people are not as productive as expected and managers cannot or do not hold people accountable. This occurs in spite of the coaching and counseling training that many organizations rely on as the way for managers to approach their responsibility. When the initial focus of accountability is on the person in the subordinate position, it is difficult for accountability to work. The initial focus of accountability should be on the leader.
The leader should be accountable for his or her leadership before he or she expects accountability from others. The way to accountability as a leader is through credibility. People tend to embrace accountability to someone who is equally accountable to them. When you, as a leader, fulfill your role well you become someone to whom others willingly become accountable. Voluntary accountability is much more powerful than relying on authority and power. Becoming credible requires attention and intention to your leadership role. Here are three ways to build your credibility in a way that develops accountability.
Create ownership by offering opportunity
I find that leaders value people who take ownership in their work. Ownership increases accountability. If you, as a leader, want to increase ownership, then be accountable to provide people the opportunity to own their work. It must be work worth owning from their perspective. They have little interest in doing your work. Unless you are accountable to provide opportunity, you may find it difficult to hold them accountable as owners.
See results by positioning people to achieve –
The fundamental need for accountability develops when one fails to meet expected results. I have worked with managers who believe people do not want to or cannot succeed so they exert control that results in micro-management. In the end, these managers still struggle to find significant productivity. If you want people to deliver results, be accountable to position them to achieve. Most people can achieve more than they realize. An effective leader positions team members to surprise themselves, even though he or she is not surprised. He or she sees the potential in people and believes they want to succeed.
Experience progress by developing healthy relationships –
Many times, work groups cannot progress because people do not work well together. Even maintaining the status quo presents a challenge in these cases. Managers get frustrated from endless turbulence. If you want people to progress in the ability to work together, you as a leader must be accountable to develop healthy relationships within the team. If you do not fulfill your accountability to guide people on your team out of relational turbulence, you should not expect them to progress in their ability to work together.
There are many ways a leader can be accountable to followers at both the team and organizational level. If you want to increase accountability from those in your organization or on you team, first make sure you are credible as a leader. You will find the willingness of people to be accountable to you increases with your credibility.