In last month’s blog, I started a five-part series on creating a positive performance culture. In the first blog, I focused on “We know where we are going!” To know where we are going, we must have a clear purpose, vision, and goals. I will now turn our attention to the second guiding principle: We own our commitments! To own our commitments, we must understand both responsibility and accountability.
Since our son has moved to New York City to go to college, my wife and I have visited a few times. Often, we use a Lyft to get to and from LaGuardia airport. I open the app, request a driver, and magically someone shows up to do the job. Our driver has the responsibility of getting us to our destination safely. We expect our driver knows what to do, how to do it, and does it. Thus far, this has all been true.
Connected to the driver’s responsibility, there are people this person must answer to for his actions. This is accountability. Those people include us (the passengers), the Lyft company, police (maybe), other drivers, the insurance company, and the driver himself (internal accountability). These are entities that help hold the driver accountable for his actions. If the driver fulfills his responsibility well, each of the entities is pleased. If the driver does not fulfill his responsibility, one or more of these entities may be negatively impacted by the driver’s actions. That impact may lead to some type of negative consequence. For example, if the driver gets pulled over for speeding, the passengers are delayed, the Lyft company loses trust in the driver, and insurance prices may increase. A driver that accepts the accountability in this situation will apologize to his passengers and give them a free ride, report his actions immediately to the company, pay the ticket in a timely manner, and commit to driving the speed limit in the future.
When a group of people working together owns their commitments by clearly understanding responsibilities and being accountable to fulfill these actions, this creates a culture of higher performance and positive relationships. Responsibility and accountability start with you as a leader and ripples out to others. Consider these questions as you create a positive performance culture in which every person owns their commitments.
- What are my primary responsibilities?
- Who do you answer to for my actions?
- Considering responsibility and accountability, what can you do even better to instill this within the people you influence?