I’ve been thinking about accountability a lot lately, and what it means. The word “accountability” is used often but true accountability is hard to find.
Accountability is the understanding of and responsibility for the impact of the decisions we make and the consequences for our organizations. It comes from the presence of trust and respect and the absence of fear. When a leader is trusted and trusting, all the players know where they stand. This builds the secret sauce holding an empowered and cohesive team together.
Ultimately, we are responsible; we are accountable for our decisions and actions creating an outcome. Hopefully, our decisions and actions will produce the intended outcome. But what happens when we get it wrong?
What happens when trust is undermined? Fear finds its way in. Fear of failure, fear of consequences. Accountability means more than being willing to take the blame; it means owning it, cleaning up the messes the situation caused. It means proactively working toward an outcome with a plan that acknowledges what went wrong. It means accepting responsibility and dealing with the cause and effect relationships to make it right. The time to build the trust and feelings of accountability is when decisions and changes are made, not when the steaming pile of our mistake is in front of us.
It means cleaning up the mess and making it right before it is tracked so far into the corporate carpets that there is no stain remover that will fix it. It means cleaning up your messes. Poop happens.
Celebrating International Women's Day this past week -
1) Sitting in the back seat on the way to dinner when I hear one of the two guys in the front say "yeah, like a 65 year old grandma........er.......a....... 75 year old .........
What made this "that awkward moment" are the dynamics that have been at play with the characters, the incredible pause, then clarification in acknowledgement of the derogatory comment it was initially meant to be. For clarity, I am not a 65 year old grandma, but close to it, and proud of it. But it didn't feel like a good moment.
2) At an event celebrating International Women's Day, I met an amazing woman. She used to be a man. She shared some of the colours she has seen through the prisms of her journey and with a wicked sense of humour, some insight into leadership challenges she has faced. It did feel like a good moment.
Yes, "we have come a long way, baby" in some ways, and we still have miles to go to appreciate and respect the women we are and the women in our lives. To not be known for our bra size, or the birthdate on our driver's license, or the deeper voice than expected, but for who we are and what we bring in the moment to the tables we are at. After all, isn't that all any of us want - a few good moments?