Holding to Account Sounds Awfully Hostile.
To hold to account. Dictionary definitions:
‘To require a person to explain or to accept responsibility for his or her actions; to blame or punish someone for what has occurred’.
‘To consider someone to be liable or responsible for something. In other words, they will have to answer (e.g. to a court of law or to public opinion) for their actions’.
When we talk of accountability it would be worthy of note for anyone building a Culture of –‘ if it’s to be, its up to me’ to at least recognise that many people will hear ‘I’m going to hold you to account’ as hostile.
The chance of them buying in to their accountabilities are diminished from the get go when people believe they are being watched over or surveilled for mishaps. That kind of ‘old fashioned managerial’ accountability is coming from waiting for failure and a blame conversation.
What is far more powerful is the message that an accountability culture is one where it is support based – others intervene to prevent their teammates from failing or drifting. (Because we all do even when we can’t see it)
The Coach approach to accountability is to uphold someone to be their best.
Again the dictionary words on uphold.
‘If you uphold something such as a law, a principle, or a decision, you support and maintain it’.
‘To support something that you think is right and make sure that it continues to exist‘.
Teams that have agreed on the definition of accountability as a means of refusing to let each other fail are much more likely to make sure their accountabilities are upheld and that they call each other out from a place of support and loyalty for the greater good.
This is principally about having clear behavioural agreements. “Jane, I am going to do whatever it takes to help you with your goals and ensure you can’t fail’. “Mike, accountability in my eyes, is having your back against the promises you made. I’ll keep you on track if you lose sight of your goals – are you up for that?” (They always are)
You may say it’s only words – but words are all we have.