Why Accountability Counts

In a recent issue of Soundview’s Executive Edge we took an in-depth look at accountability.

I have always understood accountability to be about responsibility. If you’re responsible for a job or project, you’re also accountable for the results of that project. But in The Next Level, Scott Eblin points out that these are two separate issues.

Eblin says that responsibility is about who is doing the work, while accountability is about who is answerable to the company for getting the work done. If you’re closely monitoring those doing the work and also doing some of the work yourself, then you’re taking on responsibility for this work. However, Eblin points out that you can only manage a few people or projects in this way.

The successful leader is able to pull back from being responsible to being accountable. Accountability focuses on outcomes. Their job is to set the agenda and to bring different streams of work together in a way that supports the company agenda.

In this newsletter we also looked at the 10 indicators of unsound accountability from Brian Dive’s book The Accountable Leader. See if you recognize any of these from your own experience.

  •  Unclear purpose and priorities.
  • A lack of timely and appropriate decisions.
  • Duplication of work.
  • Too many ineffective meetings.
  • A culture of long and excessive hours at work.
  • Managers working in their team members’ decision space.
  • Multiple, small authorization steps, leading to “organizational treacle” that slows down decisions.
  • Quantitative grading systems that generate unnecessary jobs (and therefore structure) to provide administrative “promotions.”
  • Undue loss of good people.
  • Top management thinks there is a capability problem.

If any of these sound familiar then you might benefit from reading the full newsletter which is part of our Executive Edge subscription, and is also available as part of our Soundview Premium Online subscription.

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