Building Accountable Organizations

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On a recent television interview, I was asked, what comes first, accountable organizations or accountable individuals? I believe that organizations that show a culture based on accountability or those organizations that have developed and have built themselves around a group of accountable individuals. It’s the individual accountability that comes together to create that culture with an organization that’s based on accountability.

So how do we do that? Well I think you can nurture both. Not only the organizational culture but help the individuals along at the same time.

The first thing that is important to have in place is a champion. We need an accountability champion within the organization, someone that’s going to start a conversation on accountability and keep that conversation going because it’s that conversation of accountability that permeates throughout an organization. It shows up in all your meetings. It shows up in all your internal transactions. It’s the way to build that culture so it is based on accountability.

Once you have that champion in place, we need to teach accountability. We need to let people know what they are accountable for. What I’ve learned over the years is simply this: people want to be accountable, they just don’t know what they are accountable for. And if we have a champion who teaches and sets up a system to teach the five proactive accountabilities to everyone within the organization, they’ll know what they’re accountable for.

The next thing we need is we need modeling. We need the leaders in the organization to model the accountabilities that we want everyone to display. Everyone looks towards the leaders for guidance and it can’t just be one individual. But if everyone in the leadership position is showing and using and displaying and speaking that language of accountability, they’re modeling it for everyone in the organization and it gets catchy.

The last thing we need in place is feedback. We need to be able to let people know where they stand with regards to accountability, how they’re doing, where their weaknesses are, where their strengths are and how we can improve. Because when we give this feedback we’re now creating a situation where we have a champion who’s teaching and modeling and now we’re giving feedback and we complete the circle and that’s how we create more accountable individuals in an organization that’s based in accountability.

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