The Importance of Accountability in Leadership and Business
Accountability is one of the most valuable skills a business leader can master. Leadership accountability lays the foundation for an organization’s culture, productivity, and overall success.
But What Is Accountability in Leadership?
Being “accountable” is more than just taking responsibility or being reliable. Several veins run through a truly accountable leader.
Accountability is a skill that requires leaders to own up to their actions, decisions, and mistakes. It’s also the ability to follow up on the commitments they have made within an organization and its people. Finally, real accountability requires leaders to take responsibility and pride in the art of encouraging and guiding their employees.
Being an accountable leader is not as easy as it may sound, but it is necessary to bring genuine value to your team of employees and your organization as a whole.
What Happens if a Leader Lacks the Skills of Accountability?
When a leader fails to create a culture of accountability in their organization, it can lead to many issues, including (but not limited to):
- Demotivated employees
- Low company morale
- High employee turnover
- Lack of trust
- Unproductive work performance
At Strategy People Culture, we’ve found accountability a crucial leadership skill to hone and develop. We’ve already touched on its importance, but in the rest of this post, we want to dive into the true value of this leadership trait.
Here are three main reasons why accountability is an essential skill to have in business leadership.
1) Leadership Accountability Leads to Better Internal Communication
The first thing we want to talk about is communication. Effective internal discourse and cooperation will be optimized under the umbrella of strong leadership. If the leaders aren’t accountable for their communication styles and tactics, then who is? Equally important is that subordinates will likely adopt and follow many of the traits and styles of their leaders, believing their leaders’ communication attributes are ideal in the organization.
Leaders can improve communication within their organization by ensuring their plans and expectations are clearly understood from the get-go. For example, an accountable leader will carefully define business projects to their employees and be clear about goals and deadlines.
A good way for accountable leaders to communicate their expectations is through timely, efficient meetings. These gatherings should have clear purposes and allow for open conversation between leaders and employees alike. An effective leader will also follow up their meetings with an email that summarizes key points, such as assignments and deadlines. They leave no room for misunderstandings or vague details and avoid the need for micromanagement.
What Do Accountable Leaders Do When There’s a Miscommunication?
When a misunderstanding occurs, accountable leaders will focus on their role in the problem. They won’t point fingers but rather work within their team to prevent similar issues from occurring in the future.
By taking responsibility, rather than blaming others, leaders encourage their team members to feel more comfortable reaching out for help. Unfair blame or shaming only leads to a lack of transparency, negative employees, high turnover, and low morale.
2) Accountability Is Contagious
Leaders set the standard for an organization. What a leader demonstrates through their words and actions can positively or negatively influence workplace behavior. As a result, effective leadership builds a strong culture within an organization.
A leader can influence accountability in others by:
- Acknowledging strengths and weakness
- Taking responsibility for their mistakes
- Being open and honest
- Completing work on time
- Following company rules
- Reaching out for help when needed
- Striving to improve continuously
These behaviors contribute to an overarching company culture that sets everyone up for success. Team members will know what’s expected of them and work hard to meet these expectations.
3) Accountable Leaderships Creates a More Productive Workflow
An accountable leader can minimize unproductive, distracting activities by making team members feel valued, understood, and appreciated. Here are some of the top ways in which leaders can encourage productivity by being accountable in the workplace.
Say “We” Instead of “I”
An effective and accountable leader will often say “we” instead of “I” when taking credit for business achievements. A leader who says “I” instead of “we” tends to make employees feel unimportant and discourages positive work performance. On the other hand, a leader who says “we” can make everyone feel important and necessary to an organization.
This simple pronoun change promotes teamwork and makes employees feel valued, which according to research conducted by psychologists, motivates further hard work and productivity within a business.
Provide Constructive Feedback
Accountable leadership includes giving constructive feedback to employees to guide them. If an employee doesn’t understand their strengths and weaknesses or the preferred direction and style of the leader, they will not know how to improve in the future.
Frequent and meaningful feedback can help motivate employees to boost their work performance, leading to happier results. When giving feedback to employees, leaders must highlight positive performance areas, along with their shortcomings. Some positive feedback will make the employee feel appreciated for their hard work and encourage them to make the suggested improvements.
At the same time, an accountable leader considers what they could do to help overcome any failures or challenges. So it’s not all about what the employee can do on their own, but about what a leader and an employee can achieve together.
Recognize and Reward Great Work
If a business manager is accountable for their actions, they will recognize positive work from individuals and team members. Taking the time to recognize great performances increases job satisfaction and promotes high-quality work.
Hopefully, this post provided a better understanding of how accountability can improve business leadership and promote a better work environment. Without leadership accountability, it is challenging for an organization to maintain employee involvement, commitment, and productivity.
Need Help Improving Your Leadership Accountability Skills?
If you are a business leader and need help developing skills around accountability or looking to hone your overall leadership style, Strategy People Culture is here to help.
We are an executive and leadership consulting business specializing in helping business leaders better themselves and their skills. Our clients’ success is our biggest goal, and we are ready to build and improve upon your leadership skills.