It is clear that in today’s fast paced and economically challenged environment; the competency of personal accountability is certainly one of the top few attributes a successful leader must bring to the workplace. Those that are personally accountable experience a much sweeter success whether it’s in the marketplace, community, or family. The modeling of personal accountability trickles down through the departments and communities to the end customer, resulting in increased customer satisfaction and loyalty. 

So what is personal accountability? Personal accountability centers on the internal willingness to take responsibility for solutions. Accountable people look for ways to solve problems and are not discouraged from continuing even after initial failed attempts. On the other hand, a person with poorly developed personal accountability will make excuses, assess blame, and focus on what is wrong. In simplest terms, the difference between these two levels of accountability largely determines success or failure.


A successful leader understands that it is only through commitment and persistence that their team and organization will grow and succeed. They accept responsibility for their actions even in
messy or difficult circumstances. The result of seeking long-term solutions culminates in a sustained commitment to the objectives of the business. Accountable leaders view mistakes as a learning opportunity and use them as a springboard for moving forward.

One of the most memorable examples of personal accountability is arguably the Johnson and Johnson case. Led by their mission and values system, J & J did not hesitate to implement a total product recall back in 1982 when it was determined their Tylenol product was being tampered with. The result was not only the innovative tamper-resistant packaging, but a growing favor from the public. A potentially disastrous situation ultimately became a marketing opportunity. Other examples include Apple Inc.’s decision to provide free service to all its customers when a small number (2%) of customers experienced service problems upon the release of one their
iPhones. Other reputable personally accountable companies include Nordstrom and The Ritz Hotels. The clear upholding of their mission and values, regardless of hurdles and obstacles, puts these companies in a category unmatched by most.

People and organizations flourish within organizations that consistently do the right thing. This inspires all of us to own solutions, regardless of what stands in our way. The challenge for 21st century leaders is to stay positive, be courageous, seek solutions, and learn from mistakes.

To help you evaluate your own level of personal accountability, here are few fundamental questions you can ask yourself:

• Am I asking questions to find solutions (or to assess fault)?
• Am I committed to persistence and success, regardless of the obstacles ahead?
• Can I admit my mistakes and move past them? Am I resilient?
• Do I create an environment where failures create learning opportunities?
• What can I do to help other’s generate energy to solve core issues?

Personal accountability is critical to success in your organization, career and life! All of us seek out others who we can rely on and trust to come through for us, even though tough obstacles and trials arise. Personal accountability boils down to doing what we said we would do – regardless of the cost. It doesn’t mean that everything will run smoothly or even be delivered on time. Remember, it is often the most difficult trials handled well that provide the most learning and, as in the case of Johnson and Johnson, deeper levels of loyalty and trust from those we care about and serve.

Photo Source: