Updated: Nov 24, 2020
THE 8 BEHAVIORS THAT DEFINE IT
Winds of change in the labor market! Recent studies have shown that we no longer limit ourselves to highlighting the importance of being able to count on the contribution of responsible employees. Today the focus is, above all, on the need to surround oneself with proactive collaborators able to consciously demonstrate accountability.
German sociologist M. Weber (1864-1920) defined the ethic of responsibilityas “the behavior of those who act rationally with regard to a set objective, shrewdly measuring the relationship between the means and the ends and the consequences that their actions might produce.”
A sword of Damocles that leaves no way out, no margin for error. In effect, at first glance, the idea of “being held accountable” carries a negative connotation, almost oppressive at times, implying performance anxiety or a sense of blame. Despite this, an increasing number of companies are working to use this concept for their benefit, transforming it into what is effectively added value.
These companies have realized that accountability is reflected in feelings of cooperation and interdependence between team members. They have understood that a responsible collaborator is more likely to be deemed worthy of trust, because those surrounding them know they will keep their word.
A discovery that may seem banal, but one that makes for incredible results: the active participation of all stakeholders, greater involvement across multiple fronts, the development of technical and interpersonal skills and, last but not least, reducing the fear of failure. Concretely-speaking, these elements translate into increased financial performance and a boost in creativity, innovation, and personal and professional satisfaction. The icing on the cake? In acting responsibly, many problems can be nipped in the bud, which makes for consistent time, energy, and money savings.
Be careful! This does not mean that accountability is a remedy for all ills but, if exercised consciously, it undeniably has the power to put us in a position to make decisions with integrity, decisions that, as a result, will prove opportune and coherent with our values.
Let’s now look at the 8 behaviors that make up accountability in the workplace:
1) EFFECTIVE TIME MANAGEMENT
Acting on agreements made during the biannual meeting or relaunching a project left on standby for days? Checking the achievement of intermediate aims or bringing forward a conference call with the Singapore branch?
Freeing yourself of these dilemmas brings a profound sense of accountability that, when demonstrated, leads us to assign the right level of priority to each task, efficiently respect deadlines, and consciously delegate.
“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot” (Michael Althsuler).
2) ACCEPTING CONSTRUCTIVE FEEDBACK
To actively seek constructive feedback enriches our sense of accountability, as it encourages us to clarify the here and now, to understand where we are, and to verify the impact our behavior has on the expectations of others. Pushing ourselves so that we are in a constant state of learning can be wearing, but it is essential in order to avoid the fear of failure and to learn to accept mistakes for what they are: tools for growth, opportunities to evolve, experiences from which to progress, launch pads to achieve future success.
“Mistakes are necessary, as useful as bread and often beautiful: for example, the Tower of Pisa” (Gianni Rodari).
3) DEMONSTRATING A SENSE OF BELONGING
Collaborators who are proactive when it comes to holding themselves accountable are more inclined to make an effort, regardless of what is at stake or the complexity of the challenges faced. These people do not let themselves be beaten by the unexpected and do not throw in the towel at the first signs of difficulty. It is not a desire to overcome the scepter of power that is at the root of this positive attitude, but “simply” a deep-seated sense of belonging: a feeling that wells up from the inside and pushes us to go beyond the superficial and widen our horizons for the good of the entire organization.
“Each of us leaves a mark in the place we feel we most belong” (Haruki Murakami).
4) DEMONSTRATING INTEGRITY
Integrity is apparent when our aims are aligned with the values in which we believe: a winning combination that is reflected in a series of behaviors that are in synergy with our essence and our authenticity. This way of acting finds validation in the honest and responsible attitude of those who keep their word, moving coherently from words to facts, with no ‘ifs’ or ‘buts’.
“Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest” (Mark Twain).
5) DEMONSTRATING A COLLABORATIVE SPIRIT
Being proactive in terms of demonstratingaccountability also means encouraging a relational environment based on trust and reciprocal respect: indispensable elements with which to guide members of a team to move in the same direction in order to achieve a common goal. It is proven that a cooperative collaborator is more inclined to visualize their own goal in connection with those of others, attributing meaning to the overall picture. All this without being conceited.
“The best result will come from everyone in the group doing what’s best for himself and the group. Governing dynamics, gentlemen. Governing dynamics.” (Russell Crowe – John Nash).
6) KNOWING ONE’S RANGE OF ACTION
Establishing where our responsibility ends, and others’ accountability begins allows us to set the boundaries to our field of action and give voice to reciprocal expectations. Openly expressing these aspects is vital in order to avoid exceeding the demarcation lines that, all too often, are unclearly marked, something that results in incomprehension or misunderstandings which, in some cases, turn into real internal and/or role-related conflict.
“Happiness is there when perceptions and expectations are in joyful harmony” (Debasish Mridha).
7) ADOPTING A CONSTRUCTIVE ATTITUDE
We often forget that we have the possibility to choose which state of mind to adopt, without allowing external factors (environments and/or people) to condition us any more than we want. In other words: the decision to passively accept events or exercise control over them is predominantly down to us! In a professional setting, this emotional accountability is particularly visible, when we take on a proactive role in critical moments, when we focus on solutions rather than problems, and when we resist the temptation to “point the finger” at the scapegoat of the moment.
“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” (Sir Winston Churchill).
8) TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR ONE’S ACTIONS
Once we have taken ownership of our emotions, the next step is to express them coherently and consciously. How? By taking responsibility for our actions. By acknowledging the results obtained. By embracing the “the good,” “the bad,” and “the ugly”. And, last but not least, by understanding that our decisions, as well as being the key to our success, also offer us the possibility to inspire others.
“You may not be responsible for the situation in which you find yourself, but you become responsible if you do nothing to change it” (Martin Luther King).
A sense of accountability is built thanks to the contribution of each and every one of us!
Check 'The A-Coach', our project to guide companies and their employees to move in this direction, inspiring them to become masters of their own actions.