Your daughter or son agrees to complete a chore and you arrive home only to find it incomplete once again. You ask one of your employees to contribute an important section of your team presentation, then discover it’s still not on your desk the morning it’s due.

Are you challenged by people being irresponsible? Are they failing to follow through on commitments and let you down by missing the mark on expected results? If so, do you believe if you just knew how, you could hold them them accountable? Despite your frustration, can you in fact, hold others accountable?

First you need to understand what accountability is in order to determine if it’s within your power to hold someone accountable. Accountability is action engaged in by a person in an empowered mindset in which their thoughts, feelings, words and actions all line up. They are living with integrity. They are centered and aware of what they are committing to and why, and they have come to this by mindfulness. They slow down and ask, “What am I feeling and what do I want?” An accountable person also considers the positive and negative consequences of their choices and from freedom, decides yes, no or come up with an appropriate alternative to either. Most importantly accountable people act from inner motivation and personal, holistic beliefs. So, in essence, because accountability is an inside job, you cannot hold others accountable.

What you can do is create the conditions, including a quality relationship, in which another person is able to get and stay centered and make accountable and committed decisions. When you do not create or provide those conditions, a person is likely to get into a mindset in which they feel they have no choice, have to do things for a real or imagined authority figure and then fall into a reactive state in which they either resentfully comply or rebel and resist. Either way, their follow-through is mediocre, incomplete or non-existent. Because they are out of integrity, they fail to be accountable. So what are the conditions you can create that foster accountability?

The main one is to help another become intrinsically motivated and live by purpose and values. You help them understand “why” they do things and how to focus on causing good. You help them discover results they want and how they feel about their choices and results? How do you do this? First you choose to believe people are and want to be great. You assume they want to cause good and contribute in meaningful ways. You assume they want to be socially interested and you teach them to be so. You help them be internally motivated by values and beliefs that matter to them and make sense, offer choices and teach competency. You offer them support, opportunity and guide and coach them. You make it your top priority to transfer responsibility to them in a way they can pick it up and feel good about it. You help them develop leadership skills so they can shape and influence their life and their effects upon and in it.

In order to hold others accountable, your best strategy is to live a life in which YOU are accountable. You model the power of your beliefs and choices and act in emotionally and socially intelligent ways. Helping others to hold themselves accountable is much more challenging but it’s also much more fulfilling. Feed a man a fish or teach him to fish. The choice is yours.

Why People Hire LifeWork Systems

Business owners, community leaders, and educators hire Lifework Systems because they want the advantages of an extraordinary workplace and recognize a systems approach ensures consistency and sustainability in the transformation process. They know that conscientious employees grow your business and improve your reputation, giving you competitive advantages.

We help organizations instill into every person a common language and toolset for how to participate in a responsibility-based workplace. Visit our website at www.lifeworksystems.com, and click the link at the bottom to complete a culture assessment and schedule your first consult to review a report on your feedback, all at no cost.  You can also contact Judy Ryan at 314.239.4727 or at judy@lifeworksystems.com.

As published nationally in the Women’s Journals, August 2013