The Accountability Reset

I wrote about accountability in a blog last year and have done a deep dive into it over the summer break. Why am I interested? Because it’s often what makes us fragile that blocks our progress to becoming AntiFragile.

And often what makes us fragile are issues with accountability.

From more than 30 years’ experience as a senior leader and working with my clients, I know that accountability is critical to learning forward and team success. And multiple research studies agree.

Accountability is the foundation of progress and performance.

Not convinced?

Just think about any of the frameworks, models or processes that you use with your team or in your organisation – whether that’s Lean, Agile, KPIS, OKRs, your meeting protocols or the latest transformational change program – without accountability they become meaningless. It’s like flushing water down a drain – a waste of valuable resources.

A lack of Accountability makes us fragile to disruption and uncertainty.

And that’s a problem because the reality is that despite the promise of widespread vaccine distribution, the ongoing challenge of managing local outbreaks means that disruption and uncertainty will be part of the workplace landscape for most of 2021, if not beyond.

But if we weren’t good at it before (and let’s face it most of us weren’t), the added complexity of the COVID impacted workforce and workplace can make accountability feel even harder as we try to get our heads, hearts, and hands around what the ‘new normal’ looks like – even if it’s just for just this week!

Disruption and uncertainty will be part of the workplace landscape for most of 2021.

Alongside this, there are new perspectives and priorities that have emerged from out COVID experiences of 2020.  Many of us are keen to hold onto the freedoms it brought, things like more family time, less commuting, and a clearer understanding of who and what are important to us. In fact, the thought of battling into the office and returning to the ‘old routine’ fills many of us with dread. A recent Wellbeing Lab survey found that, despite the sudden and unwanted change to our work routines,  88% of workers reported feeling satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their current working from home arrangements and only 39% were feeling positive about a return to work in the office.

All the CEOs and senior leaders I work with are expecting a partially distributed workforce to become their new operating normal.

A partially distributed workforce is the new operating normal

As the challenges and opportunities provided by COVID increase, so does the need to perform. Organisations that didn’t take care of their people by being flexible in their expectations as workers managed the demands of home-schooling, or offering support to those who were alone in isolation, face an engagement and talent flight risk in the coming months. Equally, those teams and businesses that were able to provide great customer service despite the chaos and uncertainty, won the hearts, minds and loyalty of clients.

Sustaining purposeful progress and high performance in the COVID context is critical for business continuance and growth.

This is the Accountability Imperative.

Are you ready to step up?

Many leaders don’t feel confident that they are. As I’m talking to leaders around Australia and elsewhere in the world, I’m hearing…

  • It feels harder to lead a distributed workforce – it takes more time, effort and energy
  • I know that COVID has impacted the wellbeing of my people and I’m unsure how to deal with accountability and performance
  • My peoples’ priorities and expectations of work and life have changed and what was ok before, is less ok now
  • Accountability conversations can be tricky at the best of times – they’re even harder when they’re virtual
  • Some of my team are really reluctant to return to the workplace – they’ve enjoyed the freedom of working from home or are genuinely fearful of COVID exposure, even if risk levels are low. How do I navigate that?

Sound familiar?

To step up to the accountability imperative we need to rest mindsets, attitudes and behaviours around accountability. I’ve developed The Accountability Reset Toolkit to help leaders, teams and organisations take evidence-based actions and to navigate the great opportunities and challenges that lay ahead.

Here are three things from it that you can do right now to start an Accountability Reset with yourself and your team:

  1. Get real.
    Ask: Are the expectations you have of others realistic?
  2. Get clear.
    Ask: Did you make the expectations clear and explicit?
  3. Get curious.
    Ask: What else could be going on that’s impacting the accountability challenge you’re facing?

You can read more about the two factors that fuel accountability and what you can do to lead The Accountability Reset in the e-book I’ve written based on my research. Just click here to download it. And you can talk to me about how we can work together to help you, your leadership team or your organisation do an Accountability Reset by clicking here.

Dr Paige Williams

Dr Paige Williams

International Speaker, Author, Mentor


Determined to help leaders move beyond just the need for resilience, Paige provides practical, evidence-based strategies for leaders to become antifragile, lead themselves and their teams to thrive and succeed in the Decade of Disruption.

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