3 Keys to Unlock Your Accountability

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June 26, 2017
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June 9, 2017

TTM associates Article

Many organizations spend considerable amounts of money and time in Performance Management systems, in Talent Management and other disciplines in order to improve organizational effectiveness. However, these investments will not deliver the desired results until they repair the organization’s culture on Accountability. CEOs and business leaders expect more engagement from their employees, greater reliability and accomplishing the organizational results. Whether the target is to grow the business, improve efficiency and achieving costs, or to implement a new change initiative, a culture of Accountability is the most effective way to align employees for results quickly during times of change, challenge or renewal.

There are 3 important keys for unlocking accountability in the workplace.


1. Making Accountability A Lived Value

Accountability should be implemented in an impactful way in order to show results within organizations as there seems to be a misunderstanding between what leaders value as accountability and how it is translated in a team. According to 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 to See It, Own It, Solve It, and Do It’’.

Getting the entire team on board with the same language and framework, creates tremendous positive energy. As a result, people embrace and integrate accountability into everything they do, individually or collectively. With Accountability demonstrated and supported with clarity and consistency by all team members, results that previously could not be achieved, have become now entirely achievable. When everybody is committed in closing the gaps, it becomes a 360° effort that aligns everyone in making Accountability a value that all know how to implement in the organization.

Without substance, Accountability will not exist as a value; it will only be a statement.

2. Building trust through stepping Above The Line®

Trust is an important factor that contributes to accountability. In low-trust environments, people focus more on the blame, not the solution. In high trust environments, people focus on the solution, not the blame.
According to a recent ILM study, industries with the lowest levels of internal trust typically score poorly on external trust, suggesting a link between consumer and employee trust levels. Banking, financial services and insurance were the least trusted by the public, with a net high trust value of 30%! ILM research also reveals that employees in the largest organisations reported the lowest levels of trust. Managers in organisations of more than 1,000 employees reported only 27% net high trust, while those working in smaller organisations of under 50 employees, where managers and senior staff are more likely to be in direct contact, they displayed the highest level of trust across the group – 58% net high trust.
Organisations wishing to improve trust need to first identify ‘Below The Line®’ behaviours and help people step ‘Above The Line®’, following the ‘Steps To Accountability® ‘Model. (Please see the figure below). Accountability becomes something that everyone owns, not just the Management and the Leadership team.

People and organizations find themselves thinking and behaving ‘Below the Line’ whenever they consciously or unconsciously avoid accountability for individual or collective results. A thin line separates success from failure and the great companies from the ordinary ones. Below the Line lies excuse-making, blaming others, confusion and helplessness. Above the Line we find a sense of reality, ownership, commitment, solutions to problems and determined actions, which can be developed through defining roles, responsibilities and accountabilities.

3. Making sound decisions – the Whole Brain® Way-is the way to Accountability

Ultimately, personal accountability means accepting full responsibility to achieve decisions and ‘Do It’. If the organization doesn’t ‘Do It’, it will never reap the most valuable benefit of full accountability: overcoming the obstacles and achieving the desired results. Despite the many benefits resulting from applying the previous three steps, results are delivered only when all four steps are put together and passionately, proactively and persistently “Do It”!

Effective decision making is both an art and a skill. Strong decision makers weigh ethics, risk, timing and emotions, along with the logic and analytics to generate Whole-Brain® solutions.

Whole-Brain® decision-making reaps the greatest benefits because it addresses all elements of problems: people, operations and strategic impact.



In 1914, Henry Ford decided to double the wages of his autoworkers and by that it was called out as the “The Greatest Business Decision of All Time” by the editors of Fortune 2012. He changed the way American business viewed employees; workers were no longer seen purely as an expense, but as an investment in the future prosperity of the company! Henry Ford paired the emotional impact that doubling income would have in employee loyalty (right brain) with the logical and analytical reality of increased company expenditure (left brain).
The same applies for Apple’s decision to bring back Steve Jobs. He was relentless on product design and kept releasing a string of successful products that reflected the new focus on elegance and user experience. All of these devices were perceived as being better in quality (left brain) – and certainly better in design and ease of use (right brain) – in comparison with similar products.
Each individual has a natural inclination to focus their attention on certain aspects of a problem, but they should not be limited to their preferences. By intentionally managing their attention, they can cover more thinking bases, solve problems more efficiently and reach sound decisions.


Final Thoughts

The price of non-accountability that people and organizations pay in terms of lost revenue, diminished profits, compromised growth, customer dissatisfaction and unsuccessful value creation, is enormous. This doesn’t include the personal pain inflicted on others when things go wrong. If Accountability is a core value of an organization, it warrants some attention to get it right, so that there is clear and consistent understanding and implementation from the top to the front line employees. A culture of accountability holds leaders through front-line workers accountable for meeting certain performance benchmarks. They achieve those benchmarks by relentlessly adhering to best practices and processes, which result in improved performance. Greater accountability always leads to better results across the board for every individual in the community.


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Read more about Behavioural Leadership, and how TTM associates can help you develop a positive culture of Accountability that will drive substantially greater engagement, alignment and ownership across your organization! You are also welcome to view and download our full online brochure for your reference.