Accountability Is a Team Sport

by Nov 11, 2019

Business Innovation Brief Best Article

Personal accountability is about being responsible for your decisions, actions, attitude, reaction, communication, and relationships. It is rooted in the belief that you are the controller of your life. You own your promises and commitments and the outcomes. Often the word accountability carries a heavy almost dreadful feeling, but it’s really about self-empowerment.

Personal Accountability

It takes courage to hold yourself accountable for every decision, action, attitude and results in your life. Void of ego, it would be an easy thing to accomplish, but we human are often full of pride and arrogance. We all are living with the illusion of self-perfection.

“Accountability isn’t a dirty word; it is about self-empowerment. It’s about being the captain of your life, instead of the passenger at the mercy of others.”

Unfortunately, we don’t naturally want to break that shell. Unless you are willing to come out of the shell of pride and arrogance and start accepting that no one is perfect, it is impossible to hold yourself accountable for anything.

Personal accountability requires that you:

1. Understand that no-one is perfect and all-knowing. There are always many sides of a picture we can’t see.

2. Be willing to say “I don’t know” by suppressing the ego, and arrogance.

3. Admitting when you are wrong is the toughest part, but it is guaranteed not to diminish your value. Rather your importance increases when you admit mistakes and take measures to correct them.

4. Own the commitment and outcomes. When you don’t own it, you start making excuses and blaming others, and that produces negative outcomes.

Team Accountability

Two heads are better than one, therefore one’s lone effort directed towards achieving a goal may not be enough compared to the collective effort of a team. This highlights the importance of teamwork directed towards the achievement of a mutual goal or to accomplish a job in the most efficient and effective manner.

The settings for teams include interdependence and that varies from low to average to high, depending on the collaboration, communication, and interaction level required by each team members.

In an organizational setting, teamwork has proven to be of a huge benefit. It enhances productivity and gets tasks done on time. Collaborating on a certain workplace task creates a drive for learning from each other.

“Being able to openly share ideas and discoveries with your team thrills and enhances the team and individual knowledge. It also fosters better workplace relationships amongst colleagues.”

Organization, industries and companies often solicit the help of coaches and experts who are skilled at creating effective, coherent, and motivated teams in organizational settings of all sizes and caliber.

These individuals are capable of unifying a team and improving their performance so as to increase output. Their lectures and workshops are aimed at making known the importance of teamwork, including how it can be enhanced and nurtured to yield greater effectiveness.

A successful team thrives by helping each other win. Members give each other the gift of proactive reflection. Members openly receive feedback and constructive criticism. Members respect that each person grows at their own pace.

“Teams who help each other win, by nature become accountable to each other.”

Last week I was invited by Consumer Track Inc to speak to the entire company about accountability. The speech and workshop was well received. The focus was on the proper context to hold as individuals around accountability, and ways to practice as a team.

Ways for Teams to Practice Accountability


1. When someone asks you to make a commitment — only commit if you can deliver.

2. Never make a commitment without an agreed to timeline expectation — when is it due? Only commit if you can deliver.

3. If you can’t deliver on a commitment after you’ve made it, it is your responsibility to find someone who will back you up and deliver it for you — this is when you need to remember the synergy game.


1. If you see something broken — fix it. If fixing it requires more people — organize the effort.

2. If you lack a skill — ask for help.

3. If you see someone struggling — offer help.

4. Be proactive — you are in the people to people business.

5. Take actions to correct a problem, be solution-focused


1. Reflect to people the truth about their performance or level of work

2. If goals change, seek clarity — seeing them through

3. Hold yourself and those around you accountable for delivering results, hitting deadlines, following process, effectively communicating change

4. Model the behaviors you want to see in your team

5. Be present in meetings and ask questions that generate dialogue and inspire critical thinking

Benefits of Practicing Accountability

If you have a habit of questioning yourself about any discrepancy made by you, and you take responsibility for them you will always try to correct things that go wrong, and this gives a direct boost to your performance.

Taking responsibility of any task as a team member doesn’t mean that you do your part and your duty is over, rather there is another step required. A person who takes responsibility in a team, is responsible for the actions of other team members too. You are not just accountable for yourself, rather you have to also hold other team members accountable for the commitments.

By reducing the natural tendency of blaming others, you start taking responsibility of your decisions, actions, responsibilities, and goals, you become the owner of the outcomes in our life instead of a victim. When teams stop the blame game for everything gone wrong, the relationship between team members automatically improve. The focus shifts towards finding solutions, instead of pointing fingers.

“There is no room for self-righteousness on a team. That will only serve to create distance and tension. Accountability is a team sport.”

A person with the brave nature of taking responsibility for his/her actions, especially when things go wrong, and apologizes for the mistakes to teammates, not only gains the respect from others but gives license to others to practice vulnerability.

“Teams you practice vulnerability with each other, operate with high levels of mutual-trust.”

The secret sauce to achieving team synergy and mutual accountability is three-fold and rooted in vulnerability:

1) Proactively give

2) Openly receive

3) Respect the individual’s ability to give and receive

Personal accountability has a crucial role in the performance of a team. In addition, by practicing vulnerability you foster honesty, commitment, compassion, integrity and build good team relations.

This makes for intimacy among teams, enabling them to accomplish anything together and they often do.

Photos and video clip from the Live Richer Speaker Series workshop, “Accountability Is a Team Sport” at ConsumerTrack, Inc. ConsumerTrack  owns and operates GOBankingRates.com, a personal finance website that empowers its readers to Live Richer. 

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