I’ve often found a level of confusion in people’s minds between ‘responsibility’ and ‘accountability’ so let’s clarify this first.
‘Responsibility’ can be thought of as what happens before and during an action – somebody who is responsible for something has a duty to carry out, and complete, the task. It can be applied to an individual or a group, or team, of people.
‘Accountability’ is about what happens afterwards, or the consequences that arise from the task being carried out. This is generally individually owned, so even when a team is responsible for something, the accountability generally rests with the most senior member of that team or, perhaps, somebody to whom the team reports.
And this is why Sandra Gallagher, CEO & Co-Founder at Proctor Gallagher Institute, states that “accountability closes the gap between intention and results.”
By ensuring accountability you ensure a far greater likelihood of the action being carried out, as somebody will have to feed back on the outcome. It really does move things forward from the intention to carry out the action to actually doing so and showing a result.
The greatest problems with tasks or actions not being carried out happen when there is no accountability. Responsibility to do so, alone, will not ensure they happen.
So, consider the way your business and teams are structured. Are there people accountable for all the functions as well as having people responsible for them? Ensure accountability and you raise not only the prospects of the tasks being carried out, but the standard to which this is done, too.
It’s also why boards are so important – one of their key roles is that of holding the CEO accountable for the business.
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You can learn more about accountability and its positive effects on your business from these related posts:
- The Power of Accountable Leadership
- The Role & Responsibilities of the Company Board
- Why a Proper Board is Essential, Even for Small Businesses
- Leadership in Times of Crisis – 5 Cornerstones of Effective Action
- 3 Top Traits of an Effective Change Leader
- 6 Temptations of a CEO
P.S. It’s also why executive coaching has become so important in business – good coaches hold the executives they work with accountable for the actions agreed upon. If you’d like to find out more about my executive coaching programs, book a no-obligation 30-minute call here, or send me a note to contact you here.