Responsibility versus Accountability

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Responsibility versus Accountability
Allen Lim, HR Consultant, Hong Kong

Lately I have been thinking about the difference of responsibility and accountability... Would like to listen to view points and thoughts... Here's mine:
Responsibility - I refer responsibility as usually related to task enthrusted to someone who are in a position to perform, execute and respond with the ability expected. I am not sure it come from the root word of both "respond" and "ability" but if it does, it seems to define "responsibility" as expectation of the ability to respond.
Accountability - I am not sure about this and have been thinking about it for a long while... I refer accountability as usually related to above and beyond responsibility of task usually for someone or a person we are responsible for, hence the accountability of someone else.
With the above not so good explanation here's an example:
I have a team of technicians and engineers working on an aircraft. They are given the responsibility to execute their task based on their knowledge and skills as enthrusted unto them which were based on my best knowledge of their abilities. I am accountable to their executable abilities to fulfill their responsibility. Whether they have or have not I am all accountable for their success and failures.
All in all, I begin to realise that both responsibility and accountability are terms of definition. What's more important is to know what to do and how to go about executing both behaviors with clear understanding.
Thoughts anyone?

Responsibility versus Accountability
PK Lim CMC, PMC, Management Consultant, Singapore
Allen, let's say you have a project entrusted to you by your boss and he makes you accountable for the results of the project. But you have a team of people selected by you working on the project with different skill sets. They are responsible to provide you the input and solutions so that you will eventually succeed in your project. They are not accountable for the result, you are.
Your boss holds you accountable and not them. Hope this helps to clarify the differences.



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