The Challenge of Low Accountability

I don’t like to place blame. I’m not a big fan of finding fault. I am however a huge fan of assigning responsibility and holding people accountable for their actions and decisions.

 

For those of you who believe there is no difference between placing blame and assigning responsibility let me share with you what the difference actually is. 

 

Assigning responsibility and accountability has to do with being answerable. It means your actions and their results will be measured objectively. Most people are willing to accept responsibility when they realize it comes with the opportunity to improve.  

 

To place blame is not only to be held responsible but to find fault. Blame assumes there will be a penalty, whether implicit or tacit. When someone in a leadership role assigns blame their actions usually stop there. The “blamed” individual awaits the punishment they are certain is coming their way. 

 

Authentic Leaders will hold their people accountable for outcomes without automatically placing blame. Accountability helps people grow. Whether they like it or not accountability motivates people to improve. Accountability actually leads to empowerment. Once an Authentic Leader holds someone accountable they follow up with coaching and offers of help. I can think of no downside to accountability. 

 

Placing blame on the other hand is one of the most demotivating actions a leader can take. Blame leads to disempowerment. It causes shame and a feeling of defeat. It is demoralizing. Blaming someone slows their development. There is no upside to blaming someone.

 

When something goes wrong in your organization do you think of terms of holding people accountable or do you look for someone to blame? It’s an important question because accountability will help your people grow while blame will stymie their development. 

 

This is somewhat a generalization but when the level of blame within an organization is high the level of accountability is usually low. 

 

Low accountability in an organization leads to a high level of chaos. Low accountability leads to low profitability and higher turnover. Low accountability leads to disengaged employees uninterested in improvement. Low accountability eventually leads to no need for accountability because there is nothing left to be accountable for. There is not an organization in existence today that can afford low accountability.


If you’re dealing with the same problems and mistakes again and again maybe the blame isn’t with your people. Maybe it’s with how you’re leading them…or not leading them. Is it time to hold yourself accountable?


It’s Not My Fault

“It’s not my fault” are some of the most dangerous words a person can string together. They cause a ton of damage to your relationships, to your ability to lead and to your personal ability to learn and grow.

 

When you’re in sales and something goes wrong you can’t say it’s not my fault. You have to accept responsibility or you damage the credibility of others in your organization. To me accepting responsibility for the mistakes or failings of someone else is one of the greatest challenges a professional salesperson must face. It’s not easy to stand in front of an angry customer and be chewed out for something someone else did. 

 

It is easier however when you stop trying to assign blame for a problem and start looking for solutions to the problem. The fact is, no matter who’s “fault” it is you as a salesperson are responsible. You sold the product and whatever outcome, good or bad, comes with it. Trying to offload responsibility for it makes you look less like a professional and more like a mere product peddler. 

 

When you’re a leader and something goes wrong you definitely can’t say it’s not my fault. Blaming your people for mistakes or problems will damage your credibility with everyone, not only the person you’re blaming.

 

The truth is that if you have a person that is mistake prone, or someone who is underperforming in their role it IS your responsibility as a leader. Either you’re not providing the person with the training and tools they need to succeed or you’ve put them in a role where they can’t excel. Both those circumstances are your responsibility. 

 

If you have the audacity to call yourself a leader then you must accept the awesome responsibility that comes with it. One of the major responsibilities of leadership is ensuring the success of the people you lead. 

 

The most successful people, in any walk of life, care less about assigning blame for a fault. They care more about finding solutions to any problems caused by the fault. 

 

“It’s, not, my, and fault” are incredibly destructive words when strung together. They limit the potential of the person speaking them. Those words together cause the person speaking them to accept their circumstances and walk away from potential growth opportunities. Those words, when strung together have never been known to solve anything.


When anyone says “it’s not my fault” someone loses. All too often the person who says it loses the most. Remove that combination of words from your vocabulary and your entire outlook will improve for the better.