Accountability is a word and concept that gets tossed around a lot in organizational lingo. My definition: Accountability is following on through, with fidelity, on what was reasonably ask of me and to which I genuinely committed.
Accountability is a two-way street. It only works when both those in authority (aka Leaders) hold themselves accountable to the same extent as are the others in the organization (aka Followers).
Leaders can do a lot to make accountability more understandable, more attainable, and more palatable by those with whom they share in the burden of "making it -- whatever it is -- happen":
- Vision __ Leaders make clear the purpose of the "work" is, the direction we're going, and how each person's role connects to that vision.
- Straight Talk __ Leaders clarify the roles to be played and the tasks to be completed and the metrics by which ALL are to be held.
- Monitoring __ Leaders monitor constantly across data sets (the hard data and the soft data), providing feedback that is fair and connected directly to the data, and refuse to allow BS (from themselves or anyone else).
- Teamwork __ Leaders model and insist upon persistent commitment to continuous improvement, which necessarily means frequent conversations (listening to all voices in the game) around what the data is telling us and how to use that data to make adaptations in direction, in resource allocations, in role assignments, in personnel changes (+ or -), etc.