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Why accountability is essential for responsible leaders
October 15, 2020

Many factors contribute to why leaders find success. Leaders can build a company on an innovative business plan,  a strong network, and effective marketing, but there are a few other key actions they might not consider that contribute to their sustained success. To lead responsibly and grow sustainable organizations, leaders must establish a culture of accountability.

What does accountability mean?

Making sure you lead responsibly, ethically, and effectively all comes down to accountability. Accountability means that individuals have to account for their actions and accept responsibility for them, no matter the results, as well as correct those actions when necessary. Accountability can address negative actions, but also positive — for example, to give accurate credit to colleagues doing a good job. Establishing a culture of accountability is essential to a transparent and ethical organization. Shared responsibility for accountability from leadership positions to every employee — from the CEO down to the newest entry-level employee — will result in higher morale and more effective performance, and in turn, further success.

Establishing trust

Trust is a key benefit to employee culture and morale. Author Pete Lowe says, “When an organization’s culture is embedded in honesty and integrity, it enables people to acknowledge mistakes without fear of blame and to work with the team to reflect, learn and move forward positively.” Strong leaders should create an environment with their peers, partners, and employees where they encourage asking questions and providing feedback. This comfortable environment of regular accountability will encourage more trust in the organization.

A culture of accountability leads to further growth, as individuals at all levels encourage learning from mistakes. They will continue to grow stronger as a team after accounting for and addressing any issues or mistakes that arise and giving proper credit for positive results.

Steps to prioritize accountability in your leadership

Here are a few steps to make sure you are doing what you can to prioritize accountability as a leader in your business.

  1. Define what accountability means to you and your organization. Be clear in what your processes are, and be clear from the beginning in your communication about accountability.
  2. Establish meaningful goals together as a team. By being transparent in your goals as a team, you are working to establish further trust and encouraging equal collaboration early on.
  3. Be transparent about your motives with your team and with your partners. When you make key decisions that will affect your employees and partners, be honest and transparent, and prepare to be held accountable for those decisions.
  4. Ask for feedback regularly from your peers and your team. Whether through regular check-ins or written assessments, emphasize that feedback is a two-way street.

Encourage self-reflection 

Continually assess if you are regularly getting feedback from your teams and people you trust. Ensure you are communicating effectively with your team and your partners to keep each other accountable and to encourage self-reflection.

Creating a culture of accountability is a positive and proactive approach to your leadership. Being fair and consistent sets a great example for your team, your partners, and your network, and will result in your success as a responsible leader.

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