This is the twentieth installment in our 25 week series exploring the 25 competencies, or soft skills, that our assessments measure. Each week we’ll give you the definition of that competency, explain its value, and give you tips to help you develop it. This week: Personal Accountability.
Personal Accountability has a straightforward definition: Being answerable for personal actions. Those who are personally accountable own their mistakes, learn from them and use them to grow. They don’t shy away from responsibility or challenges. They work hard to meet their goals and produce their deliverables, and if they can’t, they tell you why, without excuses.
People who are skilled in Personal Accountability get things done. They go out of their way to meet the commitments they make. They don’t let setbacks keep them from reaching their goals. They don’t try to shift responsibility to anyone or anything else. Instead they rely on themselves to make sure things keep moving. They also don’t need outside direction. When they have an objective, they set out to accomplish it and don’t need to be told how. It’s all about personal responsibility — owning your actions.
High levels of Personal Accountability tend to come with a “hero” mindset. Everyone can choose to view themselves as victim or hero. Victims are those who feel they have no control over outcomes. They see things as happening as a result of others’ action or of circumstances over which they have no power. “I was late because traffic was so bad.” “I couldn’t finish that report because no one gave me the data I needed.”
Heroes, on the other hand, are people who act. They take responsibility for what happens to them. “I was late because I pressed snooze too many times.” “I didn’t finish that report because I didn’t make it a priority to complete the necessary research.” Heroes are in charge of their own destiny; victims are not.
If you want to strengthen your Personal Accountability, you can start by simply admitting your mistakes. Don’t resort to excuses or defenses. Acknowledge how your actions led to your current situation and own them. Everyone makes mistakes, and no one should be afraid to admit them, as long as they are learning from them and moving on. There may be new mistakes the next time around, but there will be few repeated mistakes. The next time something doesn’t go as planned, instead of seeking a scapegoat, look for your role in the problem. How did your actions get you there? What will you do differently next time? Shouldering responsibility is the mark of a hero.
If you would like to learn more ways to improve your Personal Accountability, download our Personal Accountability Rx Suite here.