Why Aren’t Your People Taking Accountability?

By Heather Campbell

There’s an epidemic sweeping our organisations. And leaders don’t know how to stop it.

It’s the epidemic of ‘lack of accountability.’

How do I know there’s an epidemic?

Because, right now, the Number One question I’m asked by leaders across a whole range of organisations is: “How can I get my people to take accountability?”

Frazzled, frustrated managers complain they can’t deliver on their personal goals because they’re so busy doing the work of the managers who report to them.

And this isn’t a problem that sits only at middle management levels or amongst frontline teams. It’s a common complaint in the C-Suite, too.

In fact, one CEO said to me recently that his entire senior leadership team seemed incapable of taking any action without first getting his go-ahead.

Now, it’s tempting to conclude that it’s the CEO’s fault. Maybe he’s too controlling or too hard to please and people have learned that it’s quickest to keep checking in.

But the truth is, I know him and his senior leadership team well. He’s a respected CEO, well-liked too. He’s an open guy who is really willing to take some tough personal feedback and act on it (I know because I’ve given it).

And his senior leaders are mature, competent, motivated people.

But they don’t agree that they’re suffering from ‘accountability failure’ – quite the opposite.

They find that they can’t do their jobs because they’re so busy doing the work of the managers who report to them. Yes, you’ve guessed it – those individuals “aren’t taking accountability.”

In fact, across our organisations, everybody’s doing the job of the person who reports to them because of this epidemic.

So, what’s the answer?

We could just revise everyone’s areas of responsibility so that they reflect the work they’re actually doing, and forget about trying to get them to ‘move up a level’ in what they’re delivering.

That way we get rid of the epidemic and everyone will be productive.

Okay – there are a few flaws in that particular solution.

But I have been reviewing what’s causing this epidemic across our organisations, and have rooted out a number of problems that can be solved.

I’m going to share those with you in my next blog.

In the meantime, watch out for the ‘unaccountability’ virus – I’ll bet it’s flourishing at a desk near you 😉

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