“Accountability”: “Clear commitments that –in the eyes of others – have been kept.”

Picture yourself in a meeting.

Suppose there are a dozen people seated around a table and someone says, “I’m going to hold you accountable for what we’ve discussed.” What words or feelings immediately come to mind?

Fear? Threat? You may be thinking, “Uh oh, now there are expectations.” Others around the table may experience pressure or stress. Still others sense the tone of the meeting suddenly has changed – leadership is going to be searching for a “gotcha.”

This type of negative reaction to accountability has been earned. Most of us have experienced the word “accountability” as punitive – a “punishment” for not doing something. It is viewed as punishment because that accountability typically lurks at the back end of the business process.

Accountability shows up when something goes wrong and people start to lay blame. They start pointing fingers.

In reality, winning begins with accountability. You cannot sustain success without accountability. It is an absolute requirement!

The secret that successful organizations have discovered is to install accountability on the front end of interactions … before the outcome is known. Successful organizations front-load accountability into their strategy. When front-loaded, accountability breeds better relationships, eliminates surprises, and vastly improves job satisfaction and performance.