blame, VoiceAmerica, Marcia Zidle


“Some favorite expressions of small children: “It’s not my fault. . . They made me do it. . . I forgot.” Some favorite expressions of adults: “It’s not my job. . . No one told me. . . they did it, not me.”

What do you see in your business – people taking responsibility or pointing fingers at others? If it’s the latter, how do you stop the blame game and how do you start getting accountability?

The word ‘accountability’ seems to stir up frustrations for many managers. I have seen how it’s been used by some to assign fault and mete out punishment. But I have also seen how it’s been used to propel an individual, a team or company to great success.

What is Accountability?
My simple definition of accountability is the person’s, as well as the team’s, responsibility for the outcome(s) of what they do. People look beyond their narrow job description and focus on results – the completed product or service- their work is contributing to. When people adopt a sense of accountability, they recognize that their participation can and will make a difference. They go the extra mile because they know what to do and they know how their job and their actions will drive results.

How Do You Create It?
So, how do you lead so that personal accountability is accepted and embraced by your employees?  Here are three steps to take to stop the blame game and start getting accountability.

  • People Have to See it:
    Because reality frequently changes – what worked yesterday may not work today- a leader needs to stay alert and be flexible. This means obtaining others’ perspectives ideas and feedback. A leader must not only acknowledge but, most importantly, help others understand the what – the who- the when and the why of what’s being asked of them.
  • People Have to Own it:
    A leader also helps others to be personally invested in desired outcomes. It’s done by linking their specific tasks and responsibilities with key priorities first of the team, then the department or the business unit and finally up the line to the company. You need to demonstrate the value and importance of what they do.
  • People Have to Solve it:
    Obstacles can always get in the way of achieving results. Yes, as a leader, the “buck stops with you”. However you don’t always need to be the one to find the solution. Ask them “What else can we do so this gets resolved?” By tapping into their wisdom and their participation, you create a sense of personal responsibility for the solution to succeed.

Smart Moves Tip:

The payoffs for greater accountability are better products and services, but perhaps more significant is the impact on your people. When people participate more fully in their jobs, they create meaning and fulfillment. Work becomes more pleasurable. That’s a crucial step toward high employee engagement and performance.


Marcia Zidle, the smart moves executive coach and speaker, is host of The Business Edge on the VoiceAmerica Business Network. The show features the Smart Growth System providing small to medium sized businesses the proper foundation for expansion: a Growth Agenda that becomes their roadmap, a Growth Engine that attracts and engages the best talent and Growth Leaders that make it happen. Marcia, the CEO of Leaders At All Levels, brings street smarts to help businesses get on the right track and not get sidetracked on their path to higher performance and profitability.