Tap into Trust Series – Episode 2 on Accountability

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My intention with each of these posts is that you’re challenged to interrupt the noise and routine in your life, just for a moment, to think more deeply about what really matters in life… your relationship with yourself and with others in your professional and personal life.

Welcome to this month’s Tap Into Trust topic.

Each month through 2021, I’ve made a commitment to Barbara Brooks Kimmel, CEO of Trust Across America-Trust Around The World (TAA-TAW) to research and explore a specific topic that focuses on how trust impacts almost every measure of success in our professional and personal life.

I will be using the acronym TAP INTO TRUST which is an initiative from TAA-TAW.

Each letter in the acronym TAP INTO TRUST represents a one-word topic. Here’s the video for Episode 2 on Accountability (If you’d rather read than watch, the transcript is below).

This month’s topic is on Accountability

Here’s an aspirational action-based statement for you to use this month as you think about and apply this information and strategies on accountability:

I am willing to be held accountable to standards of conduct and performance. I take responsibility without regard to level or role.

Those who know me, know that I have an extensive library … I’m an avid researcher and reader around what causes people to think, feel and act the way they do.

To set the scene for talking about accountability I searched the index of over eighty books in my library on positive psychology, behavioural science, leadership, sales, customer service and motivational-self-help, and I was gob-smacked that the word – accountability – did not appear in the indexes of any of the books.

I found that fascinating, troubling, and concerning … and the more I consider this, and the more I’m researching into it, I’m realizing that accountability in our professional and personal lives, or a lack of it, is one of the major causes of distrust in our world.

Accountability or Responsibility

One of the problems with understanding why and how accountability is important in our lives, is that the words accountability and responsibility are often used interchangeably.

Now, I’m going to stick my neck out a little here and try and clear this up by way of an example of a work situation.

Let’s say a manager has received a customer complaint. The manager delegates the fixing of the complaint to one of her team members.

A week later, the manager receives a call from the customer again, saying the problem still had not been fixed.

While the team member was responsible for doing what needed to be done to fix the complaint (the actions), the manager is accountable to the customer for the complaint being fixed (the result).

Now, for me at least, and I hope for you too, understanding that responsibility has to do with actions and accountability has to do with results (and the consequences of those results), is a very practical way of approaching this.

In his wonderful book titled Integrity, Dr Henry Cloud highlights that when we speak of character and ethics we must include an examination of results and the consequences of those results (or lack of them).

Accountability and Trust

This clearly and directly links accountability with trust.

How? I’m glad you asked.

There are three lenses through which we can consider trust one of which is the lens of Earning Others’ Trust, or through the lens of trustworthiness.

Trustworthiness is the combination of our character, competence and how consistently we demonstrate our character and competence to achieve results expected.

Let’s break that down a little more.

When others judge our trustworthiness, by assessing our character, competence and consistency, they are judging both our responsibility and our accountability.

Accountability (and) Responsibility

You see, we are both responsible and accountable for our trustworthiness.

How so?

Well, we are responsible for our actions … for doing what we do… for applying our competence to get things done … and for applying our competence with good character, with integrity, and for doing what we do in ways that we and others are proud of.

And, when it comes to our trustworthiness, we are also accountable for the results we achieve and for the consequences of those results not only on ourselves, but also on others.

Aristotle wrote this: Our actions and our behaviour are our morals shown in conduct.

Everything we say and everything we do, sends loud and clear messages to the world about who we are and what we represent our actions and our behaviour leads to the results we achieve and the consequences of those results on ourselves and on others.

My language around that, is this: People WILL get your truth. Over time your intentions, your promises, your actions and your results will either promote you as trustworthy or expose you as not.

While other people will undoubtedly hold each of us responsible for what and how we do it, they will also hold us accountable for the results we achieve when those results, or the consequences of those results impact them.

This is true for us too – isn’t it.

We will hold others responsible for their actions and we will hold them accountable for the results of their actions when those results or consequences of those results impact us.

The Importance of Self-Trust and Accountability

This is why it is so important that we first look at trust through the lens of Self-Trust. When we hold ourselves responsible for our intentional actions and our behaviour (why we do what we do and how we go about doing what we do), we also need to hold ourselves accountable for the results we achieve and the consequences of those results not only on ourselves, but also on others.

So, for this next month and beyond, hold yourself both responsible for your intentional actions and behaviour and hold yourself accountable for your intentional results and the consequences of those results not only on yourself but also on others.

Next month I will be sharing with you the topic of Purpose, For now though, that’s it for this month’s topic on Accountability and until next time, my very best to you.

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