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Building company-wide accountability is a key element to making a business sustainable over a long period of time. Not surprisingly, all high-performing organizations are moving toward more empowerment, enlightenment, and creating organizational accountability.

So let us consider what accountability is and how we can create an organizational culture that encourages it.

By definition, accountability is being answerable or responsible for something. Accountability opens the door to ownership and not necessarily financial ownership but certainly emotional ownership where someone acknowledges they are responsible for some aspect of the organization.

Accountability is not something you make people do –it has to be chosen or accepted by people within the organization. As long as you think accountability can be purchased, mandated, or motivated, you are trapped in trying to create high accountability in a low accountability workforce. People must “buy into” being accountable and responsible. For many, this is a new and unfamiliar way to work. Individual purpose, meaning, and discipline come from assuming responsibility and accepting accountability.
Accountability is the opposite of permissiveness. Holding people accountable is really about the distribution of power and choice. When people have more choice, they are usually more responsible. When they become more responsible they can have more freedom and, subsequently, accountability.

So, how do you build company-wide accountability?

Firstly, you stop doing things that undermine accountability—stop overseeing, legislating, and micromanaging. Realize the power of reflective questioning, conversations, and collaborations.

Secondly, companies that clearly identify, articulate, and execute their strategic goals position themselves well to create organizational accountability. To effectively achieve these goals, companies must measure and manage actual business performance against these goals in a highly coordinated manner.

Moreover, building company-wide accountability requires not only a framework or a systematic methodology based on proven best practices. It also requires technologies that make the framework practical to use and implement on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual basis. It also often takes an outside coach or a strategic advisor to help the change last.

Finally, it takes an organization that is ready and able to accept accountability, the ownership and the freedom that comes with the new responsibility mindset.

Accountability and organizational change come through a new set of conversations. You can start having these conversations in your organization. Don’t wait—start today!