(This post written by Brett Slater, Chief Social Media Officer at The Latimer Group)
I got an amazing text from Dean yesterday while he was in a break at one of The Latimer Group’s workshops:
“The most important ability in the workplace is account-ability…”
Whoa. Mind::blown. That phrase popped up spontaneously in that workshop, and we thought it would make a killer subject for a blog post.
The Latimer Group covers a LOT of territory in its client workshops and on this blog. Dean, Amy, Whitney, and the team write and teach their clients how to hone communication skills and abilities like getting to the point quickly, how to use Powerpoint more effectively, being a better storyteller, listening, etc., etc., etc… Really great stuff that’s immensely useful in the workplace. But of all those abilities, “account-ability” is perhaps the most important.
Think about a situation when there’s a problem at your workplace in which no one seems to take accountability. Of course, no one wants the blame, the responsibility; no one wants to be on the hook as the cause of a problem. But, without accountability on someone’s part, it’s much more difficult to move forward toward a solution. Dialogue and communication break down, because too much time seems to be taken up with tracking down who’s at fault.
But, when someone takes accountability, it immediately takes that issue of blame off the table, and things can start moving forward again. “Blame” is a progress killer. It puts people in a defensive posture, it leads to the closing of mouths and minds, and communication fails.
“Account-ability,” on the other hand, has a much more positive connotation. Frankly, I think it should be rewarded, or at least recognized as a positive trait to have in the workplace. It shows your teammates that you’re more interested in solving the problem at hand than figuring out where to lay blame.
In fact, why not take accountability for a test drive sometime! Next time you sense a breakdown in communication at work, voluntarily take the wheel, and claim accountability (at whatever level you’re comfortable, of course). Once you do, notice how the communication dynamic changes with your colleagues. See if dialogue reestablishes, and if it helps the team move closer to a solution. Added bonus: Accountability is also a tremendous leadership quality!
Of all the abilities you need to flourish in the workplace, we think “account-ability” is the most important. Work hard on that one, and it makes many of the others seem much less difficult.
Have a great day.