The Importance of Explicit Accountabilities

Accountability is the foundation that defines how we commit to activities, track our performance, behave in a team, relate when mishaps occur, and the level of responsibility we take for getting things done.  Unfortunately, in most organizations people worry about accountability only when things go wrong.  But that doesn’t have to be the case.  By taking a positive view, explicit accountabilities aimed at results serve as a constructive vehicle for everyone to embrace.   With explicit accountabilities in place, the organization flourishes.



Explicit accountabilities are the set of practices and systems embedded in an organization for achieving individual and group performance.  They become the basis for every working relationship in the organization and produce five advantages:  productivity, performance, alignment, feedback, and development.



  • They eliminate the time and energy spent on unproductive activities
  • They reduce ambiguity and confusion about roles and responsibilities


  • They establish a sense of reality, ownership, commitment, solution to problems and determined action
  • They enable individuals in various parts of the organization to understand how the pieces fit together, how their role influences others and, eventually, the entire organization


  • They align departmental, team-based and personal goals
  • They delegate authority and responsibility


  • They enable feedback to learn about and improve performance
  • They allow identifying skills gaps


  • They clarify the need for skills development to ensure the strategic requirements are in place
  • They enable managers to monitor and adjust the implementation of strategy



Without explicit accountabilities, any effort at organizational performance improvement fails.  The result is usually victimization: denying responsibility, blaming others, demotivation, and confusion.  The price paid becomes inaction, failed initiatives, missed targets, and poor morale.

Conversely, with explicit accountabilities in place, the organization flourishes.  By adopting a positive outlook on accountabilities, attitudes shift to a sense of ownership, a solution orientation, high energy, team spirit, mutual reinforcement, and a powerful forward drive.