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  • Writer's pictureJeff Day

5 Questions to Gauge You and Your Team’s Personal Accountability

Updated: Aug 11, 2022

A recent Gallup poll suggested that only 21% of employees say that their performance metrics are in their control. Taking responsibility for the “whole” of an organization doesn’t always tie off cleanly in accountability structures. I think it's time to rethink performance metrics and accountability.

In the late 1980s, as a 19-year-old with only one year of college under my belt, I chose to serve as a missionary for my church. I was assigned to serve in Italy where I learned to speak the Italian language and fell in love with Italian culture and people. It was a life-changing experience and a big blessing in my life. I learned so much from my mission president and his wife, but I also learned equally as much from the young men and women along whom I served. We were young leaders without a lot of wisdom. We had a wide range of skills and experience. And we learned much together.

One of the skills we learned was called the “commitment pattern.” This pattern taught me how to make effective invitations leading to higher commitments by preparing, inviting, and following up. And, as issues arose, resolving concerns. I found that preparation for good commitment invitations required clarity in words, actions, and expected outcomes. This pattern has stuck with me throughout my life.

What has helped me most is understanding my role in a pattern of commitments. It is a “good of the whole,” view. While I’m not singularly responsible for the choices of the group, for example, I find that I do play a role and have responsibility for participation in the process and ultimately the outcomes of the group's choices. My responsibility lies in making sure I’ve put in the prep work, made clear and clean invitations, and created a follow-up loop for closure. Leaders can do much to equip their teams and culture with these traits. Personal accountability drives organizational accountability.

The currency of personal accountability is demonstrated in the individual attention to these details. Here are a series of questions you can ask yourself to gauge your personal accountability:

  1. Do I show up every day ready to engage and contribute? Or do I wait to be told what to do out of fear of choosing the wrong priority?

  2. How much prep work am I willing to do to reflect on a well-thought-out idea and ask? Or do I settle for quick, gut reactions to situations?

  3. Of the last 10 action items I’ve taken in meetings, how many did I finish in 7 days or less? Or did the next meeting come, and I still haven’t delivered on what I said I would do?

  4. Do I hold myself accountable for the team’s performance? Or do I spend my time thinking about my performance? Do I know the difference?

  5. When I look back on my last 5 major decisions, do I readily accept my role in them? Or do I pick and choose the ones I like and discard the ones I don’t? Do I accept failure or only success?

Your credibility begins with a personal commitment pattern. Make and keep your commitments by following the adage, “I do what I say, and I say what I do.” Success comes from honesty and not perfect outcomes. If you are the leader of your company or team, are you a credible commitment maker and keeper? Develop your own 5 questions of your credibility foundation and live it. Your teams and people will eagerly follow your lead.

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