by Dianne M. Michels
Have you and your team members where you work ever considered how uninspiring, demotivating and disheartening the terms, “holding people accountable,” or “people being accountable” is as a description of what’s expected of us at work? I am suggesting we eliminate accountability from our vocabularies and instead think about supporting one another as Possibility Partners in unleashing our purpose and potential. In case you’re wondering why I am suggesting the elimination of “accountability” from our vocabularies, please let me explain.
First of all, whenever we read about or hear the term “who’s accountable”—especially if it’s regarding some newsworthy event that has occurred in the public domain—what they’re really asking is whose fault is this? And the same is true in the workplace… whenever something goes wrong, the question is asked, “Who’s accountable for this?” However, when something wonderful has been accomplished… when something goes right, you don’t hear people asking, “Who’s accountable for this incredible outcome?” No, they say, “Who’s responsible for this? I want to be sure and congratulate them.”
Saying we have to hold people accountable in doing their jobs implies that we need to impose accountability… that somehow people don’t want to produce results… that we have to make them do it. How wrongheaded is that! You can’t make people do anything. What you can do is create the environment, the conditions, the culture, the support, and the practices that foster people being able to produce results, which is all accountability is! I don’t know anyone who gets up in the morning and thinks, “Let’s see how little I can do today to avoid producing any results.”
Instead of talking about accountability as if we owe a result to somebody and cannot be trusted to deliver that result, I am challenging everyone to think about results as what we “owe” ourselves to feel a sense of satisfaction and gratification in our work. I am further suggesting that we develop trust in our ability within ourselves to deliver those results.
Instead of “holding one another accountable,” what would it be like to interact with ourselves and one another as Possibility Partners unleashing our purpose and potential? Isn’t that possibility much more engaging and inviting than going around “holding everyone accountable?” Instead of judging people about who’s being accountable and who isn’t, I am suggesting we start asking people how we can support them in producing results… in unleashing their purpose and potential! What might happen if we remove judgment and criticism from our thinking and replace those judgments and criticisms with partnerships of possibility!
I invite you to try it for the next week. It might just give you an entirely new experience of being alive.
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