This is the first of a 7-part series on the topic of accountability, based on book “Crucial Accountability”, 2013 (authors Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler)

“One of the problems is I internalize everything. I can’t express anger; I grow a tumor instead.”                                                                                    – Woody Allen

It is simple to hang a framed value list on an office wall that includes “Accountability”; however, are employees holding each other accountable when visible behaviours state otherwise? It’s not an easy thing to do.

During my career I experienced many aspects of the word ‘accountability’. Earlier it wasn’t even a word used widely.  After the market crash and housing crisis, ‘accountability’ became the new way of doing ethical business, but people still had a perplexed look if you asked them what it really meant. Today, some still scratch their head when hearing the word.

The first problem with accountability is that it’s a bit of a struggle linking the word to enabling behaviours. What does it really mean to be accountable?

At its most basic level it means: “I do what I say I will do!” Sounds pretty easy and ideally we should all be doing that, but are we? Secondly, when others don’t, are we holding them to their word?

Chances are the answer to the first question was “yes, I do that most of the time” and the second one “hmmm…not really.” It is not easy holding people accountable as it’s a scary place to go, especially for us nice Canadians, eh?

Why is that? The reason is it takes courage, fortitude and overcoming perceptions that it could lead to conflict or upsetting someone. Is that the reality though? Not likely. There is a right and wrong way of holding someone accountable.

I read a book recently, “Crucial Accountability”, which gave me many insights into turning the possible facade of accountability into behaviours that enable it. The book shares tools and techniques that help to turn complex situations into objective dialogue that gets results.

After reading this 7-part blog series that dissects and summarizes the book (along with my 2 cents worth), and applying the tools, you will be a more accountable, integrity-based (and still nice) Canadian, eh.

Glen Sollors, Senior Consultant