You are currently viewing Expecting accountability leads to success
Written by Brent Knight, President of ISS

I wanted to talk a bit this week about accountability. What does that word mean to you?

According to the dictionary, accountability means the fact or condition of being accountable/responsible. Well, that doesn’t help much.

I will say this, we all know what it means when someone is not accountable, and I am sure that we have seen this turn into a fiasco at a time or two. The reality is that when there is a lack of accountability, it implies that an expectation was not met. Think about that for a minute.

Now we move on. The root or core of accountability is an expectation, therefore, when someone fails to meet an expectation, they risk blame. Yep, this is just a big circle.

Either way, when someone is not accountable, we generally seek blame and want to know why so that we can prevent it from occurring again. I am going to challenge this thought process and imply that people become unaccountable when they do not clearly understand an expectation. There may be outliers who make a choice to not meet an expectation, but I would argue that often, they did not clearly understand the expectation that was imposed on them.

When we look at accountability from this perspective, it should make us scratch our heads and think a bit about past failures. It should present an aha moment where we realize that if we create a clear expectation, communicate the expectation, and verify that it is clearly understood, we should be able to solve the accountability issue.

Sure, I may be oversimplifying this, but doesn’t it make sense? Our people do not necessarily fail us, we might be the ones failing by setting them up for failure.