Elusive results: Unlocking the promise of accountability.


Byline: BridgeTower Media Newswires

Accountability is listed as a core value for many organizations. It's touted as the Holy Grail for getting things done. In the world of organizational development, we speak of creating a "culture of accountability."

In the bestselling book "The Oz Principle," accountability is defined as "a personal choice to rise above one's circumstances and demonstrate the ownership necessary for achieving desired results." By this definition, it sounds empowering. Yet for many people, being held accountable feels punitive, not rewarding.

Due to the mixed emotions and misunderstandings surrounding accountability, we might embrace and reject it several times in a single day. How can we embed being accountable into how we show up day in and day out, and do it in a way that is inspiring and satisfying?

First, let's look at accountability as both a mindset and a choice. Fundamentally, it is tackling life's challenges with the belief that you can affect change. When you believe you can have an impact, you have a sense of agency. This is essential to feeling in control of your life and trusting your capacity to influence thoughts, behaviors and outcomes. This is empowerment. As inviting as this may sound, it can also be daunting to accept that we have accountability for our lives and their trajectories.

I had a mentor who was infatuated with accountability and it was contagious. He would say things like, "Do you want your reasons (why it can't be done), or do you want results?" and "If it is to be, it's up to me." That doesn't mean you play a martyr that soldiers on through the daily trials and tribulations. Instead, you focus on removing obstacles and solving problems. You believe in what's possible and recognize your role in moving something forward.

Personal accountability is not blaming others or slipping into victim mentality. Victimization, or fear-based thinking, often shows up when we focus on why something isn't possible. I hear it when there's a competition for resources, in conversations that skirt around the issues, when people get defensive, when everything is a priority, and when the discussion becomes "us vs. them."

In the book "The Question Behind the Question," author John Miller defines personal accountability as the practice of "making better decisions in the moment." I would expand it to encompass keeping the agreements you make and owning your successes and mistakes. It's a character trait of accepting...

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