Accountability in business is one of the most misunderstood terms. Accountability simply lies in the agreements I make with others and with myself. These agreements can be specific deliverables or they could be agreements to behave or work in a certain way. When I agree to deliver something to someone, in essence, I have communicated to that person that they can count on me to deliver it.

When accountability is allowed to slip in organizations it has a knock-on impact in other areas. This is like setting off a line of dominoes. If a person in one area fails to deliver to another area, is there an impact? Likely it slows the process or system down in some way. What usually accompanies the failure to deliver is a well-articulated reason, some valid, some not. Pretty soon the bar for what can be expected in performance moves rapidly down and timelines slide across the system.

Therefore, accountability in business is necessary for transformation and accomplishing unprecedented results. When an individual or organization truly holds themselves accountable, that individual or organization is forced (if necessary) to innovate, create, think newly, and transform who they are, in order to be something or someone that can operate at this new level of performance.

Thus to be in an organization that is truly accountable is not for the faint of heart. A distinct competitive advantage can therefore be obtained when:

  1. Accountability is distinguished for all parties concerned.
  2. The authentic choice is made to hold one another accountable. This is a choice only people who are interested in being a performer would make. Nobody has to choose to operate at this level/be in this game.
  3. Be clear about the agreed-upon deliverables and ways of operating.
  4. Have the courage to persevere when it is easier to allow agreements to slip and reasons to run the day. In other words, have the courage to live in the discomfort that accompanies transformation.
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