The Mastermind: Why Accountability Is The Crucial Element For Professional Growth

What is accountability, and why is it important? Let's break it down.

The Mastermind: Why Accountability Is The Crucial Element For Professional Growth
Photo by Kyle Glenn / Unsplash

In one of the meetings with my good mentor, he was advising me on task ownership and responsibility. I remember him making the statement - "Work as if you're the CEO of the firm". I was a young professional and I didn't get the gist of the quote to be honest.

Let’s try to understand what he meant. A CEO is responsible for the success or failure of the company. Operations, marketing, strategy, financing, creation of company culture, human resources, hiring, firing, compliance with safety regulations, sales, PR, etc. — it all rests on the CEO’s shoulders. The CEO is the one held accountable for the success of the company’s efforts, across the board.

Now let’s pick a project on which you’re working. Say, you’re responsible for a piece of delivery of a project, for example, you develop and deliver reports for an application. Question - do you also proactively try to analyze report usage? Wouldn’t you call your report delivery a success if the reports are read? If they are not, shouldn’t you question the existence of the reports? You may as well want to decommission unused reports to save maintenance costs. A CEO would certainly do so. He looks at the holistic picture.

The key word here is accountability. In each of the firms I’ve worked, whenever a manager has talked about building productivity at the workplace, they have only emphasized innovation and automation. What about accountability?

To me, accountability is about taking initiative and doing the right thing for the business. It’s about taking responsibility for results and not assuming it’s not someone else’s responsibility. It’s also about following through and getting done. Making accountability a core part of the culture of any firm is imperative. Accountability creates trust, eliminates micro-management, brings higher employee morale, improves performance, and brings creativity and innovation.

There's a famous quote by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry saying “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to go to the forest to gather wood, saw it, and nail the planks together. Instead, teach them the desire for the sea.”

The million-dollar question is whether you understand what you’re accountable for. The question confuses most young professionals because they are not certain of where to draw the line.

In the next 3 images, I have tried to untangle this with questions – WHY? HOW? What’s In It For Me? on “Accountability”.

Thus, I believe, accountability is a key element for your professional growth. It gives a performance advantage and makes you stand out in a society where, unfortunately, very few people are willing to act responsibly and take ownership.