Four Myths of Self-Accountability

M y work with leaders inside all sorts of different companies has taught me that regardless of the company’s size or industry or age, most face the same few challenges. One of those common challenges is self-accountability. It’s easy to talk about how we should hold ourselves accountable, but sometimes we’re a bit more reluctant to examine how we can do a better job at being accountable to ourselves.

1. Myth: It is someone else’s job to hold me accountable.

Truth: Actually, it’s your job to hold yourself accountable! Sure, your leader can hold you accountable, but that just creates more work for them. If you aren’t clear on your responsibilities, ask and clarify. Once you know them, it’s your job to make sure they get done.

2. Myth: Accountability is just about having critical conversations.

Truth: We have critical conversations about accountability when a breaking point has been reached and someone must change – or leave. Holding ourselves accountable should be part of our daily actions. We shouldn’t reach the point of a critical conversation before we begin living out accountability.

3. Myth: Accountability is about my performance – not my behavior or my attitude.

Truth: Our behaviors and attitudes directly impact not only our own performance but also the behaviors, attitudes, and performance of our teammates. You must hold yourself accountable for your attitude and your behavior because they impact those around you.

4. Myth: It is my leader’s job to decide the standards to which I hold myself accountable.

Truth: You don’t have to wait on your leader (or anyone else, for that matter) to determine your standards of quality, production, or behaviors. Set your standards high. Aim to be the type of teammate your colleagues respect and want to emulate rather than someone who weakens the momentum of the team.

As you can see, accountability is not only about being able to count on others. It’s also about being able to count on yourself to follow through on what’s expected of you. As a side note to leaders, by not holding others accountable through care and candor when needed means you are not being accountable as the leader. Make accountability a positive topic that’s discussed openly versus a topic that we avoid addressing because of its often negative perception.

Suggested Live-it-Out Action: Print this post and have your team read it before you next team meeting. Then, discuss each myth.

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