Volume 119, November 2012: Accountability

Keyzine: An E-zine for Leaders about the People Side of Business

This is a monthly electronic magazine for anyone who wants to be a better leader, coach, facilitator, or simply, to tune up their people skills. It is a complimentary publication, devoted to the next evolution of Quality Thinking.

Publisher: © Key Associates, LLC, 2010 ISSN # 1545-8873

“Liberty means responsibility. That’s why most people dread it.” — George Bernard Shaw

Accountability has to do with “answerability” to another – your boss, your customer, your co-workers; responsibility is a personal condition of being reliable, dependable, of carrying an obligation for one’s actions.

Have you noticed that certain people are prone to bring you problems, without any sense of personal responsibility? It’s like a dump truck backing up. Often it has to do with something someone else has done to them. And it often begins with “they.”

  • “When are they going to fix this problem?”
  • “Who made the mistake?”
  • “They put me in this situation.”
  • “When are they going to provide me with _____?”
  • “Why do we have to change?”

Instead of finger-pointing, procrastinating, and “we-they”ing at work, all of us need to concentrate on bringing out the best in ourselves and in one another. We are all on the same team, and everyone’s success is mutual.

Tim Porter O’Grady (2007) gave an astute response to the comment, “I’m too busy.” Say, “I don’t care.” Build expectation of accountability and responsibility; it is not an invitation. Participation is a condition of corporate citizenship, a prerequisite for membership in a community.

Practice Point

When the whines begin, check the language of the questions. Encourage others to ask:

  • What is my role in this situation?
  • What am I doing (or not doing) to promote the situation as it exists?
  • What is under my control?
  • What can I do to have an impact?
  • How can I do things differently? (and then have them conduct an experiment)


Porter-O’Grady, Tim. Identifying 21st Century Practices for Leadership. Presentation at the Vermont Oxford Network Meeting, Cambridge MA, October 12, 2007.


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