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Will 2019 be the year of accountability?

 We don’t have to tell you that business is complicated. You know. Maintaining productive employee and client relationships, mastering challenges and opportunities, and navigating the future are things that don’t just happen automatically. They require the kind of insight and acumen that only a continual program of learning can sustain. Big Think+ is an enterprise-level education system that delivers a customized curriculum designed specifically for your company. Our effective, short-form videos that feature a wide range of renowned experts engage, inspire, and teach, with a focus on action over theory.

We release a collection of new videos each month that address an important theme. What better place to start 2019 than with taking a look at personal responsibility in the year ahead, regardless of what that year brings? Our latest release discusses accountability, learning from failure, and resilience.

This year also marks the third anniversary of our partnership with Insigniam, a management consultancy for executives tasked with delivering breakthrough results. Shideh Sedgh Bina is a founding partner of Insigniam, and in her video “Transformational Leadership: The New Math of Employee Accountability,” she takes a look at accountability itself and the opportunities it presents.

The meaning of accountability

Accountability, according to Bina, is “about taking whatever performance you’ve got and using it to elevate performance moving forward.” While it can involve finding out “who’s to blame,” that’s not its primary purpose. “Accountability is about improving performance,” says Bina. “Accountability is about elevating reliability. Accountability is about being a great partner.”

Accountability is most powerful as part of a conversation “where it’s really an agreement or a partnership — being accountable — and not something that one does just by themselves.”

Nonetheless, Bina notes that being accountable does mean recognizing that whether you succeed at a task or fail, “the primary factor is the actions you take,” and that equally important are “the actions you don’t take.”

Bina models someone avoiding accountability when things go poorly: “Hey, I didn’t deliver my numbers this year because the economy turned bad.” The accountable person, on the other hand, might say,: “I can look and see, with the economy I’ve got, how do I cause the results I’m committed to? How do I relate to the factors and conditions I’ve got [in order] to produce the results I’ve promised.”

Improving Performance and Elevating Reliability

After a success, Bina says, one’s accountability is about “how am I going to institutionalize or embed the practices I took for success this time, so it’s repetitive and I’m able to be reliable in the future?”

“A powerful accounting gives you a new platform for success in the future,” Bina concludes, “either by allowing you to build on a past success — there’s no mystery how we got here — or correct on a shortfall so that in the future, faced with the same thing, you are stronger and more capable of delivering.”

Being a Great Partner

As Bina reminds us, “We live in a world where people count on our performance for their performance” and it’s inescapable that sometimes things don’t turn out the way we hope. So the final aspect of being fully accountable means making our best effort to clean up after ourselves, not leaving it to someone else to deal with the problems created by our missteps. “For me to stop and look at the impact and look at how I can mitigate that impact actually makes me a more reliable partner.”

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