Accountability in the workplace is a funny thing – it seems like many of us want to be thought of as accountable without having to shoulder the weight of actual accountability. The bad news (for some) is that shirking responsibility just isn’t sustainable, at least not for someone who wants to be taken seriously. The good news is that challenging yourself to become truly accountable can have a dramatic impact on your career.
In the short run, holding yourself accountable for every little thing can put you in some tight spots. In the long run, though, that integrity will shine through in your work, and you can bet your pension that people in all the right places will take notice. Take a deep breath, and then own up to who you are and what you do – this is what building a successful personal brand is all about.
Step up to the plate, even when you don’t want to
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to deal with conflict in a diplomatic fashion. What some people get confused about is the fact that diplomacy doesn’t mean avoiding the conflict; it means handling it with poise and tact. When you find yourself in the middle of a disagreement, walking away is a temptation you should try to avoid. The exception, of course, is when standing your ground would lead to a physical altercation or otherwise burn a bridge unnecessarily. Most of the time, however, you stand to gain the most by remaining calm and confidently stating your case.
Follow through on what you say you’re going to do
If you find yourself in a situation where you’ve stretched yourself too thin or gotten involved with a project that is no longer suited for you, you wouldn’t be the first person to do so. Throwing up your hands and walking out can sometimes seem like an appropriate response to over-commitment, but it likely won’t sit well with the other people who have a vested interest in the work being completed. The right move is to power through; after all, you don’t want your personal brand becoming synonymous with half-measures and almost. If opting out truly becomes a necessity, find a graceful way to do it.
Admit your mistakes, or you’ll never learn from them
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that a leader doesn’t make mistakes. Fortunately for all of us, that’s simply not true. What a leader does do is accept full responsibility for those mistakes instead of making excuses. You’ll earn the trust of your team if you consistently accomplish goals, but all respect will go out the window if you’re caught trying to avoid the blowback of your own choices.
Adopt an attitude of success, even in the face of a challenge
When a challenging situation arises, you might think that it makes you look smart to go around saying things like, “See, I knew this would happen!” A negative statement like that one is counter-productive, and all it really does is beg the question, if you knew it would happen, why didn’t you better prepare for it? Being on the lookout for the negatives in order to prepare for them isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s important to go about it with a positive, can-do attitude.
Accountability goes beyond your desk; a leader (or anyone looking to maximize the value of their personal brand) takes responsibility for how he carries himself, knowing well that it can have a drastic effect on those around him.