• 6th February 2007 - By proteman

    Accountability is a hot topic today. When we deliver performance management and coaching workshops, the discussion always gravitates to the topic of accountability. In an era of Enron, Anderson and Sarbane-Oxley, clients are looking for ways to make people more accountable for their words and actions.

    We often think that accountability means “owning up to your mistakes” and saying you’re sorry. But that definition is back-ended. It implies that you’ve done something wrong and that, on the back end, you make amends.

    Think Gavin Newsom (San Fran Mayor).
    Think Mel Gibson and Michael Richards.
    Think Mark Foley.
    Think Patrick Kennedy.
    I could go on.

    All messed up, then apologized and entered rehab or therapy. I know it takes courage to apologize and admit mistakes. And it truly takes courage to seek help for a real problem. This is an important part of accountability.

    The most important part of accountability, however, is the front-end. What about being accountable before the fact? How about thinking about consequences before acting? I’m afraid that part of the accountability message is being lost.

    What does this have to do with corporate learning or training? Think about how difficult it is to get people in organizations to be accountable. And when we do talk about being accountable, we tend to talk about the back-end, taking responsiblity for outcomes and admitting mistakes. That’s important. But let’s not forget to make the front-end just as important. Be accountable for your actions before committing them. Think a little before doing.

    As leaders and facilitators, we should broaden the discussion of accountablity and remember than an apology on the back end doesn’t always erase past behaviors.

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