Accountability is a choice that not many make… Many definitions of personal accountability have been proposed over the years. One of the most compelling definitions comes from a website regarding alternatives to domestic aggression. They define accountability as actions toward or involving others that reflect the integrity of the person you want to be. This definition engenders what it is to be accountable: accountability is an expression of integrity.
Chances are you have had a mentor or hero figure that you looked up to at one point in your life. What was a defining characteristic? Heroes are not chosen for their hairstyle, or their material possessions. We believe in heroes because they act in times we can’t, don’t or won’t. They do the things we can’t do, and yet, they represent a potential in each of our lives. How did they get to be heroes? What separates a hero and a regular person? A hero takes accountability for themselves and others, and learns and grows along the way.
There are many excuses and rationalizations that prevent accountability. These excuses can easily be seen for what they are upon reflection. Excuses for not being accountable are rationalizations. Here are some things you may hear around the next water-cooler break:
The decision to be accountable must be backed up with energy. It is not sufficient to say that you are being accountable you need to act in accordance with real ownership of a problem. Tenacity is what accountability looks like to outsiders. People who are accountable look tenacious and determined. If you are not tenacious about the resolution of your problem or the achievement of your goal, then you are not truly being accountable.
Accountability also means knowing when to leave a challenge, or move on, and how to do so. Preparing your successor in a job, or closing the loop in a relationship are ways to demonstrate your accountability and respect towards a problem or challenge that is outside of your current ability. Certainly, don’t leave a situation worse than you found it if you can avoid it, and don’t leave after the first try. Every time you try something you are learning ways to do it better.
When you think about the times you were and weren’t accountable in your personal and professional life, which were more rewarding? Which do you wish you did more of? Your heroes represent the best in you, and in many ways represent the integrity you have when you aren’t afraid of what will happen.
Being accountable is what makes actions your own; it is an expression of your personality, and your integrity. You can be accountable at any time, even if you choose to remove yourself from a situation. Accountability is the first and toughest decision when situations and challenges arise. Next time you are faced with a problem what will your answer be?