By Lori McNeill

What comes to mind when I raise the topic of “accountability”? 

Often, when we think about accountability, we don’t necessarily think about it in regards to ourselves. Instead, we start thinking about it in terms of everyone else and why the people around us aren’t as accountable as we think they should be. There is some irony to that, don’t you think?

Accountability should begin with you—even when you are attempting to manage your team or communicating to colleagues regarding your expectations for their involvement on initiatives. In any situation, and definitely during one that isn’t going as we planned, we should always begin by looking at ourselves. 

It is very easy to point out what others are doing wrong, and not so easy to recognize where you could improve, especially when others are making what feels like glaring mistakes. This type of thinking only sets off the blame game, and isn’t conducive to a resolution. 

Here are some suggestions to start practicing personal accountability: 

Communicate. Start by pausing to think about what accountability in the situation really means. Then take an honest look at yourself and your reactions. Are you wondering what is “wrong” with one of your co-workers? Are you wondering why others don’t see things the way you want them to? Or perhaps it feels like you are the only one pulling the weight on a group project. These are all signs that you need to start looking at how you can hold yourself accountable to communicate better with your co-workers.  

Seek to Understand. Consider ways you can better understand the people around you. Start by asking yourself these questions: What can you do to see your coworkers’ point of view? What is it that they are really trying to communicate? What are their needs? What are their stresses? Do they have any conflicting priorities that are causing their behavior? Is there anything you can do to help them achieve what they want to achieve? Once you understand their needs and perspective, you will have enhanced insights on how to best communicate yourneeds to them.

Alignment. If you aren’t getting what you want out of a team experience, use accountability to create shared goals and achieve alignment. Think about how you can communicate the importance of the project at hand to your team—in a way that they will understand. Clearly explain the best outcome and what needs to be done to achieve that result. Then, open up the conversation so people can start to express themselves more openly and honestly. When your people understand the “why” of a project, as well as how their individual contribution matters, they will be more apt to take accountability for their part. 

When it comes to accountability, always start with yourself first. Holding yourself accountable is a sure way to help your relationships and projects succeed.

For more ideas about Accountability, email