What they’ve learnt: staying accountable

Over the last few months we’ve been spending some time looking at what our clients have learnt throughout the time we’ve been working together. This time, we’re focusing on how leaders can keep themselves accountable as well as their team.

What is accountability?

The water between responsibility and accountability is a little murky and the confusion is understandable – the two often go hand-in-hand. As a leader, you may not have been responsible for an individual task but at the end of the day, if something goes wrong or something doesn’t get done, you are the one who is held accountable for not following your team up.

This was something that Kyle Thompson, the Principal of Scots PGC College, has been focusing on throughout his time with People Make the Difference.

“I’m always looking at what I can do better in my leadership role,” Kyle said. And “holding myself accountable for following up on meetings and daily dealings with people” has been one of his main learning curves.

Many of us, whether we’re in leadership positions or not, have a little trouble with being held accountable. It’s almost natural to want to shift the blame to someone, anyone, else so that we don’t feel as though we’ve done a bad job. But, as Kyle mentions, when a leader shifts the blame, they are failing in their leadership anyway: “It’s a leader’s job to hold other people, and themselves, accountable.”

Good, accountable leaders assume ownership.

Want to be an accountable leader? It can feel daunting to assume ownership but there are some ways to start creating a culture of accountability within your organisation.

  • Be honest  – Admitting when you’ve made a mistake can be a difficult thing to do, but if leadership was always easy, anyone could be a leader. Owning up to your own mistakes and not wasting time trying to shift the blame is the best way to hold yourself accountable. Simply be honest with yourself and your team.

  • Hold your team accountable – Your team will find it very difficult to complete tasks to the right standards if they know that they won’t be apprehended for not getting a task done or not meeting standards. Their motivation will also flag if they’re not being acknowledged for the work that they have done. Make sure that you hold your team accountable for the work that they’ve done – whether it’s above or below standard.

  • Find out how where it went wrong – Assuming ownership is all well and good but it’s not enough to simply acknowledge a failing and then move on with no feedback on how to make sure the task is better next time. Talk to your team to find out what went wrong, what went right and how things can improve down the track.

  • Get rid of your ego – The biggest enemy of accountability is your ego. We all have one, but leaders need to keep it in check – if you don’t want to admit your mistakes or that you were wrong, you will have trouble keeping other people accountable.

“It’s my responsibility to follow up,” Kyle knows. “You can’t be frightened to hold yourself and others accountable.” Since starting to work on his accountability skills, he’s found that his “current team is more open with each other and they are able to have honest, robust conversations.” It’s not hard to see how organisations with a culture of accountability and honesty have more open and cohesive teams.

If you’re ready to hold yourself and your team accountable, People Make the Difference can help. To find out more, visit www.pmtd.com.au or call us on 0412 333 415. Our online leadership training videos start from $99 for a year’s access, with new video training added each quarter. Great value if you’re committed to growing your leadership potential.