When you clearly define your accountabilities, the likelihood of you delivering the results that are expected goes up dramatically.
It’s important to understand your own accountabilities, both what you’re accountable for and who you’re accountable to. You’re obviously your own work but also your team’s work. Now be careful—this doesn’t mean do their work for them. It means you have to hold them accountable for delivering those results. And if they don’t deliver, not only are they accountable, so are you. So ask yourself the question, “What do others expect me to do? What results are they expecting of me personally, as well as from my team?”
In terms of understanding who you’re accountable to, there’s the obvious ones. There’s your team. You’re accountable to them to get them the resources they need and give them the coaching and guidance and leadership that they deserve. You’re accountable to your boss. But think more broadly about your accountabilities. You’re accountable to your colleagues and your peers and other members of the company who are relying on your results so they can do their jobs. Think even more broadly. You’re accountable to your customers, internal and external customers. You provide services to other members of your organization. Ultimately, your results drive company performance in terms of the products and services that you deliver to your ultimate customers who pay you. You’re accountable to your shareholders or the company’s owners. The financial results that you deliver on your team roll up to a broader picture, and you’re accountable for delivering your part so those people get the return on their investment they expect.
Allow me to offer an example. I work with a senior executive who is a hospital administrator. He has multiple accountabilities. He’s obviously accountable to his team. He’s accountable to his boss and the corporation as a whole. He’s also accountable to patients, even though his team doesn’t directly care for patients. The results they deliver do have an impact on the patient experience. He’s accountable to other members of the hospital staff. Because again, what his team does helps the staff do a better job. He’s accountable to physicians who work with the hospital, even though they’re external to the organization. He has to represent their perspectives and opinions to the corporation. So this one individual has multiple accountabilities to multiple people.
As you think about defining your accountabilities, ask yourself the following questions. Who’s going to be upset or disappointed if I don’t fulfill my obligations? Who’s going to be happy or excited if I do deliver those results? Who assigns me tasks or asks me to do things? Who do I offer to do things for? Once you have that clear definition of what you’re accountable for and who you’re accountable to, the likelihood of you delivering the results that are expected goes up dramatically.
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