How Well Does Accountability Play with Responsibility?

flashlightGive someone responsibility and they will do their best. Make them accountable and they will do even better.

Simon Sinek

What happens when you add the ingredient of “accountability” to “responsibility”?  Simon Sinek, author and visionary thinker, suggests that these two traits combined result in a better way to get results.

Many of us are confused about the distinction between accountability and responsibility.  Let’s look at how they are defined first by Merriam -Webster and see how they differ and complement each other.

Responsibility: the state of being the person who caused something to happen: a duty or task that you are required or expected to do

Accountability: an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions

At first glance they seem like similar terms, don’t they? They are different in the way that they are used in that responsibility points to something that you are required to do, whereas accountability points to accepting the task and saying, “You can count on me and hold me to account to complete the task.”

When you begin doing some critical thinking about it, you will be able to consider that there is a merging of the two definitions that make them stronger together.  Consider that taking responsibility is accepting that you are required or expected to do something, whereas adding accountability is a willingness to take on a task and be “count-on-able” to get that task done.

Put into everyday language: responsibility means, “I will take the credit if it works and the blame if it doesn’t”—whereas accountability is, “It will work!”

In looking at your life, can you see that when you are responsible and accountable for your actions that you are stronger and in a powerful position?  And when you have been only responsible that the tendency to be victimized by accepting a task occurs.  However, when you accept responsibility and accountability, the victim disappears and who emerges is a confident person who can deliver what they say they will deliver.

I look forward to hearing from you about this conversation. Please comment below.  Have a terrific week!

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    One thought on “How Well Does Accountability Play with Responsibility?

    1. Kimberly Altman

      Hi Susan,

      I really like the distinction you make between Responsibility and Accountability! And, I like how you point out that the combination of both enables one to be in the most powerful position! What sets good leaders apart from everyday followers is that good leaders accept both responsibility and accountability and everyone knows these leaders can be trusted to get the job done. Leaders are clear that the buck stops with them, so excuses and victim-hood have no place in their lives. We are all naturally drawn to people like that. We get to choose whether we be responsible and accountable or a victim of life. Good blog, Susan!


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