Accountability—or, more often, the lack of it—is lamented by many of my clients. It’s entirely understandable as organizations desire its benefits, with 91 percent of respondents ranking accountability near the top of their company’s development needs.[i]

Why are company’s so hot for accountability? Well, it

  • Improves production;
  • Increases innovation and creativity;
  • Supports an engaged workforce;
  • Fosters ownership;
  • Builds trust;
  • As it, Empowers corporate culture.

Yet, as fundamental as accountability is to the successful running of a business, there is an unrewarding side of accountability for you.

What are they?

Routine Conditioning: Do you add intention as a key energy component to your accountability equation? It’s about valuing your work at a whole new level. If you’re anything like many of my clients—and you are!—your answer is probably rarely.

The reality is that when you do projects by rote, you’re losing a hidden booster that energy and life can add.

As I share with clients, merely sitting down and doing…doing…doing will complete your assignment, and yet it will fall short of its potential.

When I first started my business, I sent out cold marketing letters to corporations. I received far less response from a potential business prospect if I accomplished the writing, producing, and sending solely as a chore. Yet, when I infused the process with intent: “The clients I’m supposed to be doing business with in the future will want to meet me,” the results are staggeringly improved. 

Locked And Loaded: Drilled into executive development every step of the way is strengthening accountability muscle.

But too much of a good thing is just plain too much. It essentially eliminates judgment.

Sometimes you’re so wired for a “getter-done” view of your schedule that a broader, more expansive one is never even a fleeting consideration.

I ran into this in my professional life. Three coaches decided to participate in a project that we believed would benefit all three. We determined to kick the project off the first of the year and established assignments with dates for each.

The deadline for the first section, to be written by a delightful coach, was fast approaching. Nothing! Not one response to emails. Nothing at all!

Well, I hold accountability as a strong value in my life. My blood pressure rose and rose as the silence continued.

Then I reached out to the second coach to complain, and problem solve.

When I expressed my outrage, her response stopped me in my tracks. “Unfortunate, but what harm? None of our clients are expecting anything.”

“But… but,” I sputtered, “We promised each other!” And then it clicked. I was furious because I was locked and loaded, yet never took time to reflect where this project fell in criticality. I never questioned: Can the date be adjusted? Should the project even move forward? Is this the best way to produce the project? I focused on the promise more than the activity.

Misunderstood Role: Are you dutifully ticking off one item after another on your to-do list rather than doing so as the owner of the job, which is who you are? Are you one of the 85 percent of survey participants who indicated they weren’t sure what their organizations were trying to achieve?[ii]

Here’s where the twist comes into your work balance equation. As the person answerable to the project, you often spot more about the problems and even realize solutions than does your boss, but here is where the rub comes in. If you’re silent, all your knowledge is lost.

In fact, “The Iceberg of Ignorance” theory presented years ago by Sydney Yoshita suggests that top-level management only knows 4 percent of the company’s problems. They’ve hired and are paying you for your skills and expertise and astuteness.

Yes, I get it. You work within a hierarchal system that delegates authority to its leadership. However, you can’t blindly believe senior management is all-knowing, and you’re to follow instructions brainlessly.

If you have a “CEO-of-your-position” quality regarding your work, you are responsible for speaking up—with respect—regarding job assignments that don’t make sense to you.

There are many more accountability downsides, but I thought these three are enough to spark reassessment on your part… and I’m ready to join friends for dinner. Choices. Choices. I’m happy I discovered accountability discernment years ago. My desire is that this starts you challenging your schedule with new eyes. Much success!