Accountable Leadership

Corporate Accountability
Knowledge Center


Anthony Jackson
Professor, Korea (South)

Accountable Leadership

I hope you have big shoulders? That question is not about weight lifting at a fitness gym about a personal trainer asking a client about their strength. Rather it seems to be the opinion of many senior managers and business owners regardless of the industry as to the causes of project failures or failures in general.

One thing that may need to be learned (or reacquire) is a lesson in accountability.

Accountability means responsible behavior. Means ownership. And it is fully essential at each level of organizations and governments. However, at a fundamental level, accountability is frequently misconstrued by leaders who associate it with them but not to themselves.
When leaders take individual accountability, they are prepared to answer for the results of their choices, their behaviors, as well as their behavior in all circumstances in which they are involved. Accountable leaders do not point the finger at others when things go topsy-turvy. Instead, they make things right they are fixers.

Accountable leaders build a precise comprehension of their organization where it exceeds expectations and where it has an opportunity. Accountable leaders step up to uphold opportunities to accomplish something. Accountable leaders query the choices and processes that form the organization. They also raise questions and obtain answers.

Accountability is a sought after feature for any organization because employees, consumers, and shareholders want it. Also, other reasons factor into why accountability is important such as:
  • Accountability is based on trust.
  • Accountability enhances production.
  • Accountability advances proprietorship.
  • Accountability rouses belief.
The "buck stops here" is a passage at that time by President Harry S. Truman denoting that he acknowledged accountability for every decision that came from his government. This type of approach is still common amongst organizations nowadays but it's more of the exception than a policy.

Accountability begins with integrity. Frequently this requires casting aside individual pride, conceding your own mistakes, and being completely truthful with yourself. Trustworthy leaders become accountable by investigating their position in a situation and formulating a rational solution to resolve issues, disagreement, and challenges in a real and sincere manner.

Accountable leaders willingly express, "I'm sorry" after something has gone wrong and they are to blame for the transgression. The substance to a sincere apology is a concentration on making reparations, committing to what needs to be done and to fix the circumstances, and executing on it when promised. By apologizing and making a strategy to fix the situation, accountable leaders permit a center of attention on the conclusion rather than on the problem.

Accountable leaders ask for comments from others bosses, counterparts, subordinates, friends, and associates concerning how something that didn't go correctly could have gone better. Accountable leaders search for ways to do things differently in the future. They look for opportunities to start change when the change incites improved ways of taking care of situations, making choices, and creating aptitude.

Accountable leaders do not shun responsibility, they do not hesitate, or under or over commit. They realize when to say no and they recognize when to ask for additional information. Prior to agreeing to new tasks, additional deliverables, and to-do's, they check their schedules and know whether they have the substantial time necessary to complete the work on time and with quality.

Successful and accountable leadership can help drive a company forward. On the downside, a failure to live up to the potential of such leadership can have cascading and lasting impacts across an entire organization.

Baldoni, J. (2008), "Failure to Accept Responsibility is a Failure to Lead", HBR.
Smith, M. (2017), "Why Leaders Struggle With Accountability", TLNT.
Stehlik, D. (2014). "Failure: The Impartial Executioner of Leaders, Followers, and Their Organizations", Journal of Practical Consulting, 5(1), 41-52.


Strategy Consultant, United Arab Emirates

Accountability Empowers your Team Members!

Thank you Anthony, such an interesting and informative article. I always perceived accountability a... Sign up

Theophilus Mothusi Melaetsa
HR Consultant, Botswana

Power, Authority are Useless Without a Sense of Responsibility and Accountability

An insightful topic. People are often motivated to accept leadership roles because of the perks asso... Sign up

Praveen Kumar N
Manager, India

Accountable Leaders

Excellent One Anthony. Thank you for sharing this. At a time when accountability is at a premium, yo... Sign up

Maurice Hogarth
Consultant, United Kingdom

Accountability is in the Nature of Leadership; not an Add On

Anthony, I do agree with much of what you say, however, re: "accountability means responsible behavi... Sign up

Pierre AKMEL
Strategy Consultant, France

Accountable Leadership

Your development on this subject is very close to that of corporate social responsibility, where beh... Sign up

Maurice Hogarth
Consultant, United Kingdom

Your Bad from my Bad

@Theophilus Mothusi: Agreed. Everyone (leaders /managers) is assessed on the basis of what they 'DO... Sign up

Jaap de Jonge
Editor, Netherlands

Accountability, Responsibility, Making Mistakes and the Cancel Culture

I'm finding this discussion really interesting and agree with the importance of accountability and r... Sign up

Maurice Hogarth
Consultant, United Kingdom

Blame for Ease or Fame

@Jaap de Jonge: Agreed. There is a quotation to the effect that "Those who haven't made a mistake ha... Sign up

Jaap de Jonge
Editor, Netherlands

Mechanisms to Promote Accountable Leadership

Yes, a blame or cancel culture may eventually lead to a no-risk, no-action culture or even worse, a ... Sign up

Maurice Hogarth
Consultant, United Kingdom

Eventually is Now and Ever Has Been

@Jaap de Jonge: The only point I would disagree with is "... A blame or cancel culture may eventuall... Sign up


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