Accountability is an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility for your actions. If tasks are not completed and the roles are not fulfilled, then that person must also take responsibility for the consequences.

So how do you create a culture of accountability?

It starts with you!

Accountability ultimately is a personal attribute. When you are personally accountable, you take ownership for your actions and the actions of those accountable to you. Whatever happens, good or bad, you see it through and you do not blame others.

Here’s how you can establish a culture of accountability:

*Define roles*
It’s hard to be accountable if role responsibilities are unclear. You should clearly agree with others what your responsibilities are, what their responsibilities are, and how they interact with each other – especially where there are role dependencies.

For example, as a team manager, you need to provide a team sheet to the match officials at an appropriate time, and need the support of the coach to do this.

*Be honest*
Success in life only comes when you’re completely honest with yourself, and with others. This means setting aside your pride, and admitting when you’ve made a mistake. Honesty, as they say, is always the best policy, but don’t use it to blame others, or make excuses. Instead, focus on your own role in a situation, and think about how you can resolve the problem.

*Say sorry*
Personal accountability doesn’t stop with honesty. If something has gone wrong and you are responsible, then you need to apologise. Too often – and especially in sport – people make insincere or conditional apologies. See the article that follows this presentation for the deconstruction of a model apology!

*Use time wisely*
Procrastination is a common way to avoid responsibility, as it delays dealing with a problem and may lead to someone else solving it instead! Colleagues may feel that they can’t rely on you, and this will affect your professional reputation. You can overcome procrastination by identifying why you do it. Is the task dull? Do you lack information or resources? Or is there some other cause? Once you understand why you put things off, you can take steps to rectify the situation.

*Don’t overcommit*
When you take on too much, something will eventually fall through the cracks. That means you’ve let someone down. So, before you agree to a new task, think carefully about your schedule and whether you’ll be able to fulfil the task to the best of your ability.

Your time is valuable and so is others – people will actually respect you for not taking on too much!

*And, make changes*
Accountability can open up powerful learning opportunities. When something hasn’t gone to plan, ask for feedback and look for ways to do things differently in the future. Reflect on your actions, too: spend time at the end of each day asking these two simple questions:

  • What could I have done better or differently today?
  • How can I build this change into my role from now on?

Accepting accountability, you will, over time, build new skills and better ways to deal with the challenges and opportunities that come your way.