Why It’s Essential to Understand Accountability vs. Responsibility

Why It’s Essential to Understand Accountability
vs. Responsibility

You want to grow your business. You see other companies creating new products and services that truly connect with your audience. You know you offer as much value as they do, and yet you can’t ever seem to compete.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

You’ve built a team of valuable and brilliant young minds. You know they’re capable of so much creativity and innovation, but how can you get them to step up and take on new projects?

The answer may lie in the culture of your company. As you’re building your team, it’s vital you understand the difference between accountability vs responsibility.

Do you encourage your team members to take risks and try new solutions? Or do you instead, unknowingly encourage stagnation through negative feedback and siloed thinking? The solution may lie within yourself.

You, the leader, hold the keys to build your leadership skills. And then use those skills to build a culture of collaboration. This will, in turn, encourage accountability and responsibility within your teams.

Develop Your Leadership Skills

As a leader in your company, you have many responsibilities. You wear many hats and are accountable to not only those above you but to your team members below you as well. But one area in which you can never stop growing is in building your skillset.

When you first started in your profession, all your time was spent mastering your technical and professional skills. But now, you’ve been promoted to a new leadership level, and now your soft skills must come into place as well.

We’ve compiled a list of a dozen soft skills you will need to build now that you’re a leader within your company or organization:

  • Honesty and integrity
  • Communication skills
  • Empathy
  • Active listening skills
  • Relationship building
  • Strategic thinking
  • Confidence
  • Creativity and innovation
  • Positive attitude
  • Long term planning
  • Motivational skills
  • Ability to delegate

These skills will allow you to effectively communicate and collaborate with your colleagues and team members. Your projects will flow much more smoothly when you employ these soft skills on the job. And your team will thrive when you create a collaborative culture.

Collaborative Culture

Collaboration is not a one-time event that can be achieved in a weekend retreat. Instead, it is an organizational frame of mind that must be adopted by everyone in your company. From the CEO to the intern, everyone must be able to articulate the company mission and share exactly how their role contributes to the end goal.

From engaged workers to high retention rates, the benefits of a collaborative culture can be easy to see. But knowing how to attain those benefits can be more difficult to articulate. A collaborative culture begins at the top and is trickled down until it has reached every corner of the office.

Innovation and creativity are celebrated and encouraged, restrictive silos are broken down and cross-functional teams are formed.

Research and development teams talk with the sales team to see what the customers want. The sales team talks with the customer service team to see what the customers are unhappy with.

Effective leaders encourage collaboration between these departments to find solutions to the problems.

Today’s competitive and cutthroat business environment doesn’t lend itself to a collaborative culture. However, without it, the workplace can become a negative and disastrous environment.

This kind of work environment leads to a company with little to no innovation as people fear failure. Only when our failures are celebrated can we truly start to see innovation in our leadership.

Accountability vs Responsibility in Leadership

Sometimes we can start to use the words accountability and responsibility interchangeably. But in fact, they are not interchangeable. While similar, some distinct differences have a big impact when used correctly.

Unfortunately, many of your colleagues may be reluctant to take responsibility for certain tasks or projects for fear of repercussions. Many workplaces have been known to only give feedback in negative situations. In too many companies as long as you don’t do anything wrong, you won’t be held accountable.

However, using the very term “held accountable” can be deterrent enough for even your brightest employees to keep their ideas to themselves. Creativity and innovation can’t thrive in negative workplace environments.

Encourage your leaders to try something new and see if it works.

If you want your employees to take accountability, they must be able to see how their projects lend to the overall company objectives. As mentioned earlier, this must be achieved through a trickle-down effect.

Effective leaders can use their vital soft skills outlined at the beginning of the article to motivate and inspire their team to lean into the company mission statement. Leaders must be able to communicate the company’s key objective to their team members in a way they will understand and embrace the KPI’s.

Finally, skillful leaders will be able to use their active listening skills to hear what their team members’ personal goals are and then match them with the right project.

Through delegation and strategic thinking, successful leaders will be able to align their company projects with the perfect team members who will take personal responsibility and accomplish the company goals.

Acknowledge Personal Responsibility

As an organization, your company can show just how much you value personal responsibility by presenting individuals with corporate pins. These can show excellence within certain areas you want to highlight.

This doesn’t mean you need to require your employees to wear their flare, a la Jennifer Aniston in Office Space. However, a small company pin recognizing individuals within your organization who go above and beyond in taking responsibility in their jobs shows you value innovation and creativity.

Without this, it will be much harder to encourage your leadership team to take personal responsibility for projects.

Take Your Career to the Top

As you can see, building accountability and encouraging your team members to take responsibility can be difficult to achieve. However, with the right leadership skills, you can build a collaborative culture within your organization.

When your leadership team acknowledges personal responsibility and celebrates it, your team members will notice. They will be encouraged to take on more projects. And they will use their creativity and innovation to solve the problems within your company.

Accountability and responsibility start with leadership. They then trickle down to the rest of your team. And over time you will be able to successfully build a profitable company with a competitive advantage over other organizations with a negative and cutthroat culture.

It may be hard sometimes to articulate the difference between accountability vs responsibility. But it isn’t hard to feel the difference in the workplace.

Once you have achieved this collaborative culture you will know it. And your employees will know it by how they feel while at their jobs.

To read more about business and leadership, check out more on our blog.