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Accountability - It's Expected

Accountability - It's Expected

What is accountability - and leadership accountability - in particular? When I ask that question of CEOs, business owners, boards members, and senior managers, I'm often met with stunned, confused, and even somewhat frightened looks. For some reason, its meaning in the business world has become something nebulous and almost mythic. But it's not. Leadership accountability is not a nebulous idea and it's not something of myths: it's the core of your job as a leader.

Leadership accountability is simply doing what is expected of you by the people and for the organizations you are expected to lead.

So, what do your employees expect of you? What is needed for the good of the organization?

From my experience, employees typically want nothing more of their leaders than to:

  • Provide a vision: A clear direction, focus, and a game plan as to what's going to happen and when to ensure the organization's viability
  • Identify and pursue opportunities for enhanced success
  • Clear the bureaucratic "roadblocks" and deal with difficult situations quickly and fairly
  • Share information regularly and honestly - the good, bad and ugly
  • Provide opportunities to learn, grow, and gain skills to maintain individual and organizational competitiveness
  • Walk the talk. Model the values the employees are expected to uphold
  • Hold themselves, their managers, and others accountable to do the jobs they're being paid to do
  • Acknowledge them (the employees), appreciate them, and thank them for their contributions

Employees expect their managers to be able to manage resources, schedules, people, etc. That's a manager's job. However, a leader is a person who fulfills these base management tasks, while also focusing on: "What's next? Where does the organization need to go next and what will my team need to get us there?"

Leaders think beyond the current frustrations and pressures. That's how they identify opportunities and foresee roadblocks. That's how they do their jobs. That's how they're able to lead. That's how they do what is expected. That's why they're respected.



Copyright MMXII - Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC – www.WBSLLC.com +1.717.597.8890

Liz supports clients with strategic and succession planning, as well as leadership training and executive coaching.

Liz Weber CMCLiz Weber, CMC CSP

Liz Weber coaches, consults, and trains leadership teams. She specializes in strategic and succession planning, and leadership development.

Liz is one of fewer than 100 people in the U.S. to hold both the Certified Management Consultant (CMC) and Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) designations.

Contact Liz’s office at +1.717.597.8890 for more info on how Liz can help you, or click here to have Liz’s office contact you.

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13 thoughts on “Accountability - It's Expected”

  1. So clearly stated Liz. Your post both teaches what leadership accountability is and sets a format just through your writing style.

    I love the emphasis you put on "what's next". I think that may be one of the most challenging aspects of leadership -- applauding the present success while simultaneously discussing what needs to change.

    Great post.

    I will share with others!

    1. Liz Weber says:

      Thanks Kate and thanks for sharing the post with you followers. Yes I'm a firm believer that leaders can not rest for long (if at all) on their laurels. It's a constant forward look, assessment, and movement to keep the teams excited, learning, and the organization viable.

      Thanks again Kate!


  2. I don't know if it was an intentional play on words, but your post title says it well: Accountability is tied to expectations. Without expectations, accountability does become this nebulous process. Expectations must be clearly communicated and understood at the beginning. Then, and only then, can accountability serve its useful purpose - to make sure everyone is doing what they need to be doing and becoming the kind of people they need to be becoming.

    Most of the tensions within organization stem from unclear or unmet expectations. Many of these can be averted if expectations are communicated well and accountability systems are in place to remind and reward proper behavior.

    1. Liz Weber says:

      Hi Tim I can honestly say the title was intentional -- strategic in fact! But it's also a continuation of what I speak with my clients about every day. "Accountability" and helping them understand what their employees truly want from them. You outlined it beautifully above: Expectations and Accountability go hand-in-hand. They're cyclical. Without one, you can't have the other. And - that's exactly what I work with my clients on learning to do: Get clear themselves (Vision), communicate & clarify that Vision & the expectations, and then make it happen while holding them selves accountable first - and then others.

      Thanks Tim. PS - I plan to start your book this week! It looks great.

  3. Jesse Stoner says:

    Interesting post, Liz. You remind me about the relationship between accountability and trust.

    1. Liz Weber says:

      Yes Jesse they're inseparable -- and each takes years to hone. Thanks for posting!

  4. Lynn Brown says:

    These are all great points Liz. It has been a while since I was in a manager/employee role but I can see how your tips and advice work in my business today. As a coach I strive to be that leader for my clients that need me to reflect values, communicate opportunities they may not otherwise have seen and guide them along their path as a partner for their success.

    We meet on Twitter and you extended an invite to your blog today. I am glad that I visited and will be sure to stop by again soon.

    1. Liz Weber says:

      Hello Lyn! I'm so glad we've connected and you found this post helpful. I look forward to connecting with you, learning from you, and sharing with you as we go forward. PS - thanks for sharing my post! L

  5. Carl says:

    Over my 20+ years in business I have known a lot of people who have been very accountable, dependable however to be leadership accountable is a bit different. Being accountable to one or two people is so much different than being accountable to a mass of people, to help people see "The Vision" takes a special talent and commitment.

    To know what is next takes talent and the willingness to take calculated risks or better yet "informed risk". To take that one step further a leader is willing to accept the Glory but also the backlash should the risk go wrong.

    I love this article Liz and thanks to Lynn I was able to be a part of this reading today. Thanks for sharing and waking me up as I can see where I need to go from here.

    1. Liz Weber says:

      Hi Carl and thank you so much for your comments. You bring up a great point: leading a few is much different (and sometimes hard) than leading the masses. It can be much more personal and impactful. Thanks again Carl!

  6. Ron Karr says:

    In my CEO Best Selling book Lead, Sell or Get Out of the Way, Accountability is one of the 7 traits of highly effective leaders and sellers. My bent on accountability is it all starts with personal accountability, keeping promises you make to yourself. If you do not keep promises on things that are important to you, how can you expect to keep promises to others? Accountability is about being true to your "word". Your "word" is your commitment. It is the one resource that can never be replaced. You can lose your house, family, money, etc. But you can always start over if you have a reputation for being true to what you say and commit. Then you will find someone to take a chance on you and help you.

    Accountability all starts with personal accountability. Organizational accountability is nothing more than the sum total of the individual accountability of all the employees, from the CEO and down.

    1. Beautifully stated Ron. I couldn't agree more. Thanks for taking time to read and comment. L

  7. Brig(retd) Harjit Puri says:

    Thanks Liz and thanks every participant for stating thread-bare details of accountability,which normally remains hidden in the stated resposibilities.I felt throughout my life that responsibilies are spelt by the environment for us and we polish and nurture those with our sense of accountability.The ultimate aim of any leader is to kindle that sense of accountability in the followers ,so that they become self actualised and self propelled.I always felt that accountability is 'contageous'and travels fast through demonstrated positive actions.

    Excellent post.Congratulations!
    Brig(retd) Harjit Puri

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Posted by Liz Weber CMC on February 17, 2012 in Leadership Development and tagged , , ,