I attended a training class last week where we received a fresh perspective on accountability.
“We failed to reach a goal, so I’m going to hold “X” accountable.”
That statement is reactive and penalizing in nature. Why do we only speak about accountability “after” something happens? By then, it’s too late. The event has already happened.
In this training, accountability was redefined as; a personal choice to rise above one’s circumstances and demonstrate the ownership necessary for achieving key results. This idea is based on the book The Oz Principle: Getting Results Through Individual and Organizational Accountability. (Written by Roger Connors, Tom Smith, and Craig Hickman.)
It simply means asking the right questions of yourself, based on what you want to achieve in the future. Who are you? What do you do? How does that tie to your overarching goals?
For example; One of our company’s desired results is to provide a safe work environment that lets each person go home, the same way they arrived.
Once everyone realizes that their daily tasks directly impact the overall safety goal of the workplace, they can hold themselves and others accountable to do their respective jobs. In this way, accountability is tied to the goal and happens before an incident occurs. It’s not easy and it’s something that must happen consciously everyday.
We must be ready to give and receive feedback, as we simultaneously empower others to deliver it. As leaders, we must create an environment where constructive criticism and healthy conflict are normal and valued. It’s everyone’s job to hold everyone accountable. We cannot fear accountability, we need to embrace it before incidents happen.
I have heard it said many times, that every accident is preventable, yet we continue to have them. Maybe a culture of proactive accountability tied to reaching goals can help make that saying a reality?