“Have you ever heard the expression ‘If it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would get done?’ This saying speaks to the importance of deadlines to mobilize people to completion. Even more motivating, though, can be answering to someone else or having others count on you,” write David C. Tate, Marianne S. Pantalon, and Daryn H. David in their new book, Conscious Accountability: Deepen Connections, Elevate Results. “…The enhanced accountability that human relationships provide is one of the reasons why (Conscious Accountability) coaching works.
A coach, or someone in the role of coach, serves as an accountability partner to help us stay true to and follow through with our own agendas. Indeed, there is empirical evidence that coaching helps people attain their goals while simultaneously increasing their resilience and wellbeing…That is the power of accountability…and it also goes a long way toward building what every good relationship needs: trust…Trust is arguably the foundation of relationships for individuals, teams, and organizations. Without trust, relationships are at best distant and not especially effective, and at worst they’re chaotic, dysfunctional, toxic, or dangerous.
Accountability is the active ingredient for making or breaking trust. The relationship between accountability and trust is actually reciprocal: accountability builds trust, while trust allows people to be more accountable.”
It’s through sentiments like these that Tate, Pantalon, and David separate themselves from the motivational speaker spindocterisms of many different kinds of leadership advice authors. There’s no denying there’s a lot of merit in many titles belonging to leadership and business advice sub-genres, but often things can turn into an exercise of over-presentation and ego on behalf of the writer.
Tate, Pantalon, and David avoid that trap. They keep things simple and objective, delivering the facts in straightforward and unpretentious prose. “In a traditional sense, we think of accountability as having to answer to, or justify behavior and actions to, someone else,” the trio writes, in aforementioned vein. “Governments need to be accountable to their citizens; politicians and lawmakers to their constituents; doctors and teachers to their patients and students; companies to their shareholders and customers; and teams to their leaders and managers. This conceptualization of accountability places an undue emphasis on the underlying assumption that we answer only to those who have some power to influence or affect our capacity to continue doing our jobs.
Citizens in a democracy can reelect or vote out an incumbent leader or party. Boards can remove CEOs or raise their compensation. Patients can file malpractice lawsuits. Customers can stop buying (or buy more) products and services. Team members can be fired or promoted by their managers. In all of these examples, accountability is defined by the potential to lose something should our behavior not measure up.”
In effect, a case for what I would call pragmatic ethics implementation. Personally I try to do this in my life, and true to form of the postmodernist workplace, I try to implement this in my professional relationships as well.