Employees who take ownership for doing what needs to be done and claim responsibility for the outcomes of their decisions and actions are demonstrating leadership accountability. If you strive to be a leader who demonstrates accountability here are some steps to take:
- Learn as much as possible about your company or organization so you understand what needs to be done to help the business succeed in the mission, and move toward the goals and future vision in a way that honors the values and principles of the company.
- Not only understand what needs to be done, but also make the decision to act. Even if the actions that will be taken might not officially be your responsibility, if no one else is taking action a true leader will jump in, roll up the sleeves, and make things happen. This doesn’t mean you act without thinking, but rather you show you are willing to tackle whatever needs to be done regardless of whether or not it is in your job description.
- Once committed to taking action, it is critically important to claim responsibility for how things turn out. Sometimes you’ll have wild success and other times things will turn out okay without being stellar, yet there will be times your actions completely backfire, flounder, or fail to accomplish what was envisioned. Leadership accountability means being willing to take credit for the successes, the marginal results, and the failures. Leaders do not cover up or try to hide their mistakes hoping that the boss or the client or the customer won’t notice. It is important to accept that you jumped in and tried to do the right thing, made decisions, and took actions you believed made sense at the time. If things didn’t go as planned, you need to be comfortable in the knowledge that you did what made sense to you, and what was the honorable thing to do. That way there is no need to worry about covering up or hiding failures. Instead you can focus on problem solving and planning for better outcomes in the future.
- Communicate, follow through, and follow up. Employees at any level in an organization demonstrate leadership skills when they communicate with their immediate supervisor, with their colleagues or coworkers, with their clients or customers or with other stakeholders who will be affected by their decisions and actions. This includes keeping your direct supervisor (whomever that may be) informed at all stages. Let the supervisor know what you are thinking about and planning to do. As you jump in and take action, keep the supervisor updated about how things are turning out. Report both successes and failures to the supervisor. If something is a wild success, share it with others who could replicate the success as well. If something is okay yet not stellar, reflect on what worked and what can be improved, and of course share this with your supervisor. If something did not work or even caused problems, share that with the supervisor even more quickly than you share successes. Let the supervisor know what you think went wrong, how you intend to solve the problem, what actions you’ve taken so far, and what you plan to do going forward.