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Accountability in a World of Non-Accountability …

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At Least TEN Levels of Accountability That Can Be Identified, Developed and Deployed for Greatness!

In The Managerial-Leadership Bible Revised Edition II, I stated that individuals and organizations that experience high-performance achievement levels adhere to five strategic pillars or core characteristics. The last pillar or characteristic, “Accountability,” makes or breaks achievement. Without it, mediocrity becomes synonymous with accomplishment, and worse yet… it is rewarded.

Every individual is responsible for being mindful of facts, informed of non-partisan education, and aware of differing opinions on any topic before forming a conclusion. Without this, they become susceptible to misinformation and bias. This practice is critical for ACCOUNTABILITY to be a reality in an organization.

We can debate how generational diversity, culture, politics, and ethics drive differing interpretations of accountability, but the reality is that everyone knows what accountability is and what it is not. The question we must address is whether we look at accountability in a positive light, as a way to assist in the acceleration of greatness, or whether we see it negatively, as a signpost to resistance, deflection, blame, and derailment?

In working with the most accomplished Adjutant Generals of the National Guard, Celebrities, Athletes, Politicians, Fortune 100 C-Suite leaders, and business Owners and Entrepreneurs of all levels, it is always the same – Accountability leads to sustained greatness. Without it, mediocrity becomes your reality. If accountability is not yet a part of your company culture, start small, incorporating this mindset into each of the following areas. This will lead to equality and sustained achievement.

  1. Job Description Accountability or Positional Description Accountability.  If you are doing 100-percent of your Job Description, you can consider yourself as ‘meeting job expectations’ and earn the same on a performance review. Job Descriptions are critical, as each position is interlinked to an organization’s overall output expectations. When accountability fails at an individual level, an organization is unable to produce. It is the responsibility of every individual to work towards the highest level of sustained performance output. Accepting or fighting for anything less will lead to failure.
  2. Job Performance Evaluation Accountability. Ideally, each performance expectation or Key Performance Indicator (KPI) of a Job Description should correspond to an evaluation category on the Performance Review or Assessment. These reviews can be measured and scored either by self-assessment (when honestly done), peer assessment, supervisory assessment, or organizational assessment. For example, if you are doing 100-percent of your Job Description, you can consider yourself as ‘meeting job expectations.’  To achieve an ‘exceeds expectation’ one must exceed the KPIs of a Job Description, and the reverse is clear, for any Job Description KPI not attained, the score must be ‘doesn’t meet the expectation.” This becomes an accurate feedback system for growth accountability!
  3. Personal Self-Accountability is a more challenging reality today, based upon how one’s personal dashboard has been calibrated. Your dashboard KPIs from birth to your present age represents how you view and embrace accountability. This can differ based on: how one has been raised (generational perspective), education, culture, job experiences, personal associations, political and religious views, personal integrity instilled by elders (or lack thereof), etc. If you yourself have a high level of accountability and hire individuals with this internal compass, then accountability in your organization will be accepted and cultivated.
  4. Peer-to-Peer Accountability is a natural outgrowth when peers understand one another, believe in one another and want to ensure that the best professional performance is taking place by one another. This is not an I am going to tell on you culture, it is an I have your back and I don’t want to let my peers down by not doing my very best every time level of accountability.
  5. Organizational Accountability. Do you walk your talk? Organizations with clear Values and Mission Statements can benchmark every action, strategic decision, deliverable, and personal behavior. Accountability is not a game of ‘gotcha’; however, an endeavor to do the right thing, at the right time, every time. Organizations are comprised of people, so accountability among people is essential to the organization. When organizations allow leaders to reinterpret Accountability standards, the erosion of achievement ensues.
  6. Laws-of-the-Land Accountability. Rules, Guidelines, and Laws are set to maintain standards of expectations and excellence. To strive for greatness, raise the performance bar. However, once you make exceptions for one individual, you re-set and recalibrate the performance bar downward. This derails entire institutions and entities that have been designed around the output of individuals to adhere to specific KPIs. Once this is done, it becomes an expectation by others, leading to conflicts within your organization.
  7. Cultural Accountability. This is driven by an organization’s Values and Vision, and once defined; it directs the corresponding output of its employees. How others describe you is a reflection of what your culture communicates.
  8. Time/Urgency Accountability. Creating a work product consumes time. To ensure ROI to any output, consider the consumption of time as it relates to Immediate-Time (level one), Intermediate-Time (level two), and Long-term-Time (level three) implications for achievement.
  9. Trajectory Accountability. When you begin to work on something, consider the trajectory of your actions. If you discover that it will take you towards constructive achievement, continue with greater commitment. However, if it would place you in a trajectory of failure or disingenuous output, you can recalibrate instantly and avoid wasted output and potential interpersonal conflicts. In my book, Your Trajectory Code (https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/your-trajectory-code-jeffrey-magee/1121489916), I share pathways for achievement with three accountability self-application questions:

    (1) How can I apply this to myself?
    (2) How can I apply this peer-to-peer with another?
    (3) How can I apply this within my organization?

  10. Institutional Accountability. To truly ensure accountability is a reality and that everyone is a super achiever, all KPIs should be elevated, and accountability expectations should be institutionalized. Peter Drucker asserted (and I agree) that 85-percent of what makes or breaks an organization is Systems-based, and 15-percent are People. With the turn-over and transit nature of people (promotions, lateral and vertical movement, attrition, terminations, departures, down-sizing, up-sizing, mergers, etc.), it is paramount that organizations identify those outputs and KPIs that are non-negotiable to their sustainment and growth. These must then become Institutionalized (mandated by regulation, procedure, laws, etc.).
  11. Customer Accountability. Consider the internal or external customers to what you do and ensure you have feedback loops for consistent, objective feedback (good or bad) that can be utilized in real-time. I believe this is the most critical accountability variable determining why organizations that are great are great. And why all others are others!

Accountability allows for everyone, everywhere, every time to participate and execute their expected and appropriate level of participation. Without accountability, someone always has to achieve more to cover for those that produce less. When you allow accountability to slide, you penalize those that perform and reward those that learn how to take advantage of others.  In the end, everyone loses. On the other hand, achievement through accountable behaviors, conduct, and psychology grows integrity in individuals and drives an organization to succeed.


Written by Dr. Jeffrey Magee.

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Dr. Jeffrey Magee
C-Suite and Military General clients come to Dr. Jeffrey Magee for ENTERPRISE-WIDE Talent Development & Human Capital succession architecture. The need today to collapse down years/months/weeks into days is critical! Sustainable Solutions NOW. Jeffrey Magee, PhD/CBE/CMC/CSP/PDM is the “Thought Leaders Leader.” Jeffrey is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Professional Performance Magazine, editor of the LEADERSHIP MASTERY and SALES MASTERY blogs, a former nationally syndicated Radio Talk Show Host, as well as a publisher author of 31 books, translated into 21-languages, to include 4-Best Sellers (YOUR TRAJECTORY CODE/WILEY)) and 4 graduate management text books (THE MANAGERIAL-LEADERSHIP BIBLE/PEARSON EDUCATION). He is a leadership columnist, and highly sought global professional speaker on performance psychology.

The recipient of the United States Junior Chamber’s TEN OUTSTANDING YOUNG AMERICANS (TOYA) Award, and the United States National GUARD’s Total Team VICTORY Medal for civilian contribution to the Armed Services. Massive hyper GROWTH & PROFITABILITY is the resume of 100% of our 2020 clients - Business Growth & Leadership Development: Working with Organizations at the C-Suite level to protect & leverage their most valuable asset - their PEOPLE!


Dr. Jeffrey Magee is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. You can follow him on LinkedIn. For more information, visit the author’s website.