For a while now, I’ve been working with executives from a well-known multinational that decided to foster accountability among its employees. I love working with companies that dare to explicitly formulate and communicate their corporate values and ensure that they’re put into practice. It’s key for corporate long-term success!

Accountability is often associated with the notion of responsibility, but after a bit of research, I detected some differences that deepened my understanding. The concept of accountability can be summarized as:

  • Personal commitment
  • Proactivity-based initiative
  • Personal responsibility

Determined to learn more about this issue, I reflected on previous processes with different organizations and executives and discovered a polar-opposite cliché. And although it might sound outdated, it is still very present in many teams:

“When things don’t turn out as I planned, it is
always someone else’s fault.”

Let’s get more specific: Do any of these statements ring a bell?

  • “If they had done their part, I’m sure this would never have happened…”
  • “They never send me information on time. It’s impossible to make any progress in these conditions…”
  • “I do everything in my power to reach our targets, but there’s not much I can do when other people aren’t as committed…”
  • “How can we reach objectives if no one gives us an overall direction?…”
  • “This wouldn’t happen if everyone had a better grasp of everyone else’s role…”

Every time you fall into the habit of identifying the “guilty parties” (other people), you automatically turn yourself into a “victim” (I, me).

Here are just a few of the consequences when you fall into this type of behavior:

Waiting vs. Proposing
Complaining vs. Enjoying Yourself
Observing vs. Taking Action
Criticizing vs. Evaluating

If you’re going through a complex situation at work that’s put you in the role of “victim”, it might be time to step back and reflect. The fewer guilty parties you can identify, the better off you’ll be to take charge and actively form part of the solution. It’s not about taking on feelings of guilt. On the contrary, you’ll experience better emotions and sensations and develop a sense of personal responsibility. You’re in the driver’s seat!

  • If your boss doesn’t explain…, ask!
  • If you’re unsure of your role…, ask!
  • If you aren’t versed on the strategy…, ask!
  • If others don’t do it…, do it yourself!
  • If others don’t communicate…, take the lead!
  • If no one’s having fun…, make sure you do!

… Just do it!