In a collaborative culture with an influential leader, accountability is a visible practice. All team members are clear about their specific responsibilities. They are aware of the organization’s mission, vision, values, and how they fit into this framework. They are given measures and tools to use in this framework. They are given measures and tools to use in determining if they are moving forward or falling behind on their objectives. They are empowered to do their job, and they are rewarded for their efforts. The result is a high level of employee engagement with a vested interest in the success of the organization.
Accountability is indispensible in collaboration because the work is interrelated. For example, if one team member makes an error or falls behind schedule, he must report it to the rest of the team to stem the consequences; failure to disclose a problem in one part could potentially damage the entire work. In addition, taking responsibility for errors is easier in a collaborative setting, where the focus is on correction rather than on blame. Thus, fear of retribution is minimal, if it exists, allowing a more honest exchange among team members. In a traditional culture with command and control leadership, however, the opposite is true. Although management demands and praises the value of accountability, it does not provide the resources and environment that enable accountability to flourish. This absence results in widespread confusion, distrust, and underachievement. Influential leaders are aware of these pitfalls and thus behave, and urge other to behave, in a manner that promotes accountability.