Self accountability, also known as personal accountability, is a way of living in which you take responsibility for your actions and your life, learn from your mistakes, and quickly recover from any impulse to blame others, ignore problems, and hide from your own shortcomings. Self accountability is a key marker to a successful organization. To create an environment of responsibility, trust, and innovation, leadership and employees must all learn to develop self accountability.
We’ll define accountable habits and examine what needs to happen within an organization and at the individual level to develop personal accountability.
Why is Self Accountability Important?
When individuals take responsibility for their actions rather than blaming others, it gives everyone the opportunity to learn, grow, and problem-solve together. This is a vital characteristic of a successful organization. Forbes points out that an organization that fosters accountability reaps the benefits of:
- Strengthening the company culture
- Empowering employees and teams
- Breeding excellence
- Ensuring ownership and higher productivity
- Building trust between coworkers and leadership
- Setting realistic expectations
- Achieving common goals through high performance
- Setting measurable and achievable performance indicators
All levels of an organization need to be held accountable, starting with the leadership. By setting the example for self accountability, managers will see an increase in productivity from their teams as they lead by example.
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Is Self Accountability a Skill?
Personal accountability is an achievable skill. It may come more naturally to some than others, especially depending on how safe you feel among the group when you need to take responsibility for a mistake. But with practice and a plan to develop self accountability, you can reap the rewards of being accountable for your actions.
What is an Example of Self Accountability?
The following are examples of self accountability:
- Admitting to a mistake, telling those who are affected, and helping to problem-solver for solutions
- Taking time for self-reflection and intentionally learn from mistakes and shortcomings
- Asking for help when you need it
- Recognizing a problem rather than ignoring it or hiding from it
- Taking action rather than getting lost in planning and imagination
- Examining and taking ownership for your own role in creating the problem and/or contributing to finding the solution, even if the problem wasn’t your fault
- Forgiving mistakes made by you and others while making the commitment to improve and to help others improve
The following are some examples of NOT taking personal accountability:
- Ignoring a problem rather than recognizing it
- Denying that a problem exists, hoping it will go away
- Blaming others for the problem and taking no steps to help solve it
- Creating a list of reasons why the problem is not YOUR problem
- Hiding from the problem by ignoring emails and phone calls, or getting lost in unhealthy habits like excessive TV watching, drinking, or eating junk food
How Do You Develop Self Accountability?
The best way to develop self accountability is to create an action plan. Forbes outlines twelve steps for creating this action plan:
- Identify your current goals, tasks, and objectives.
- Identify how your role contributes to company-wide and department key performance indicators (KPIs).
- Segment your goals into achievable weekly, monthly, and quarterly goals.
- Be mindful of how you communicate with others and avoid blaming others.
- Research how you can improve your self accountability.
- Identify a mentor who is an excellent example of self accountability and accepting failure.
- Share concerns and ask for help on tasks that seem beyond your scope.
- Review your daily and weekly tasks to complete critical projects and meet deadlines.
- Enlist a coworker to encourage meeting goals and tell you if you’re blaming others.
- After each project, assess how you could have improved or handled things better.
- Discuss with your team the benefits and challenges of self accountability.
- Read well-researched books on accountability such as:
- Crucial Accountability
- The Oz Principle
- No More Excuses
By implementing these actions, you’ll grow in self accountability and gain your coworkers’ and managers’ trust and respect.
Do you want to build stronger teams within your organization? Find out how B STATE can help your teams grow in accountability.
How Do You Maintain Self Accountability?
Beyond creating an action plan to be more accountable, you can also maintain self accountability by creating a motivational plan. Entrepreneur magazine recommends:
- Create a personal mission statement that identifies personal and professional goals.
- Writing out everything you need to get done in the form of to-do lists and long-term goals.
- Reward yourself when you reach milestones or accomplish significant projects.
- Create micro-goals for more significant projects and deliverables to stay on task and meet deadlines.
What Does Lack of Accountability Mean?
When you don’t feel accountable for your actions, behaviors, or choices, your work can suffer professionally. Professionals who lack self accountability often:
- Waste time or procrastinate on tasks.
- Blame others or play the victim when their tasks are incomplete.
- Problem solve ineffectively or struggle to make decisions.
- Avoid working, whether that’s taking time off or fussing with TPS reports.
- Produce low-quality work.
If you feel like you’re in a rut and lack self accountability, this is something you can change if you have the desire.
What Causes Lack of Accountability?
While lack of accountability isn’t generally intentional, several organizational factors cause a lack of accountability. Many of the underlying issues begin at the management level. The Harvard Business Review points to these leading causes:
- Unclear roles and responsibilities
- Limited resources
- Poor strategy
- Unrealistic goals
When these conditions exist in the workplace, it becomes easy to blame others rather than take responsibility.
Why Do Leaders Struggle with Accountability?
Leaders and managers struggle with motivating their employees to be accountable because they often lack a sense of responsibility. A recent Gallup study found that 51% of managers are not engaged in their job or company.
This disengagement has a trickle-down effect that influences employee engagement and impacts productivity and profitability. This is often influenced by poor strategy, unrealistic goals, and limited resources.
To change the culture and inspire accountability, leaders and managers need to start with themselves and then create an environment that is constructive and encourages self accountability.
Do you need help creating a work environment where employees feel comfortable taking accountability? Contact B STATE to learn more about their proven strategies.
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Taking Accountability Starts With the Individual
Taking accountability is a personal decision that starts with a commitment to yourself to do your best, keep your commitments to your greater purpose, communicate well with others to the best of your ability, and continuously learn from your experience. You can’t force accountability on others, but you can always take accountability yourself, modeling for others the behavior of an accountable individual.
If you choose to develop self accountability in your professional and personal life, you’ll grow in integrity, garner respect from your peers, and be more productive. Becoming more accountable takes planning, motivation, and diligence.
Don’t beat yourself up if you fall short, instead assess where you made a mistake, own it, and rectify how to improve moving forward. Getting an accountability coach can be extremely helpful if you need support being more accountable.
Do you want to transform your company’s culture to be more productive? Learn more about B STATE’s proven strategies for creating more effective departments and teams.
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