Looking into the Mirror of Accountability

Accountability. Now there’s an interesting topic for professionals in the accounting industry. Layer in the descriptor “professional”, and you have the beginnings of a great conundrum. Let’s face it: accountants are excellent at holding others accountable ⎯ clients, co-workers, managers and almost everyone important in their life knows that they must be, or become, accountable if they are to survive. However, they aren’t always excellent at holding themselves accountable.

My guideline for myself is to follow Covey’s 8th Habit: “First, hold yourself accountable; then help others find ways to become more accountable.” Imagine a world where leadership lived by this simple rule. Where every leader committed to excellent work, done on time, while encouraging every team member on the assignment to do the same. I, for one, would like to work for that leader ⎯ wouldn’t you?

What would it take to create a culture of accountability? My experience as a coach for more than 30 years has provided me with three simple guidelines: do, inform, and guide. Do what you say you will do; deliver your work on time and with as much professional acumen as possible. Inform others on the team of your expectations in terms of content, comments, budget, timelines, and the importance of the work we do for the clients we serve. And, finally, be open to the art of guidance. Not everyone knows what you know, and that is why you are in a leadership position and why they are where they are in their career. Guide them. Teach them. Encourage them. If you have done these three simple things, you can then hold others accountable.

A simple test you can perform is to create a list of questions about personal accountability distributed over the three areas of leadership.

Do. What is your personal score when it comes to doing what you say you will do for all of the important people in your life? Go ahead; give yourself a score from one to ten, with ten being perfection!

Inform. Develop a few questions about how you communicate with others when it comes to establishing clear lines of communication and a crystal-clear outline of expectations.

Guide. Finally, develop a few questions around your skills when it comes to guidance. Not training, not teaching, but guidance. Take your team members on a professional development journey and instill in them the confidence to ask any, and I do mean any, question when they are not clear about a process or next steps. Make the questions as tough as you want, and, once you have them done, take the test.

Holding yourself accountable to become the best you can be is not going to be easy. Covey’s 8th Habit – “First find your voice, then help others to find theirs” –  kicks in at this point. To be an effective leader, we need to create a persona worth following. You must be able to do, inform, and guide at the top of your game every day if you want to be worthy of your team’s commitment.  It takes time, energy, and a willingness to look in the mirror of professionalism. Accountability is not for the faint of heart. It is for leaders with the strength to challenge themselves every day in every way.

Firms that insist on universal accountability develop a reputation for excellent performance and an outstanding commitment to internal, as well as external, client service.

Next Steps

If instilling a culture of accountability is a challenge in your firm, Contact Us for a complimentary phone consultation. The Rainmaker Companies can help you Grow Your Firm, Grow Your Practice, or Grow Your Self.

Charlie Flood – Consultant at The Rainmaker Companies