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Leadership Development

What is Accountability in the Workplace?

What is Accountability in the Workplace

Build a Culture of Ownership in Your Organization

Accountability in the workplace refers to an organization, leader, or team’s ability to take responsibility for not only their actions, but the outcomes that may arise from them—whether that be positive or negative. At the highest level, an organization that values accountability promotes a culture of integrity, transparency, and trust, creating a trickle-down effect that positively impacts the dynamics of a team and the leaders that drive them.

Prioritizing accountability company-wide, within a team, or personally, furthers ownership within the organization and fosters continuous improvement. 


Accountability is multi-layered, more-so in a work environment than in our day-to-day lives. Within a team, internal and external accountability involve being answerable to not only yourself, but colleagues and superiors who depend on you.

Both internal and external accountability can equally drive success. Internal accountability refers to the personal responsibility you have toward your performance, decisions, and professional goals. This includes holding yourself true to the standards and expectations you have set for yourself. 

External accountability is where the dynamic between yourself, your organization, and your team comes into play. When entering a role at a company, there are certain expectations that the role is designed to fulfill. External accountability primarily centered around being answerable to key stakeholders at all levels—team members, clients, supervisors—from both a performance and behavioral standpoint.


There are hundreds of values that companies gravitate towards that shape their culture and inspires ownership. An organization that has a culture of accountability creates an environment of trust, credibility, and continuous improvement that echoes in all departments and sectors. Below are four strategies that foster an atmosphere of accountability within a team or organization:

  1. Check-In with the Team: Regularly scheduled check-ins or video conferencing can give teams the opportunity to discuss challenges ahead of time, set ground rules on expectations, remain aware of goals or objectives that are being worked toward with greater clarity, and give space for improved problem-solving skills among members.
  2. Set Goals: Many managers and leaders set out to improve without clearly defining how or what they hope to achieve. Consider setting goals to keep yourself (and your team) accountable. SMART goals, attributed to Peter Drucker's management by objectives concept, are a time-tested way to measure goals.
  3. Utilize Technology: Utilizing technology to track progress can be a great supplement to regular check-ins and meetings. Management tools such as Asana, Basecamp, or even Microsoft Teams are centralized platforms that all members of the team can access to stay on track, manage projects, and determine priorities.
  4. Celebrate Success: By celebrating success, leaders can reinforce positive behaviors and enable teams to continue performing at a high-level. Celebrating and acknowledging when sales increase or projects are completed can be a reminder of the precedence set for future success.

An ethical standard in many modern companies, accountability contributes to better performance and long-term success as employees—and leaders—are more engaged. This higher sense of purpose, in turn, creates a sense of ownership for their work, increasing motivation and fulfillment.

When people feel meaningfully connected and psychologically safe at work, they bring their best ideas and effort to every challenge. The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety Workshop is a valuable opportunity for anyone who wants to set the stage for innovation and create a healthy and productive workplace. Psychological safety is suitable for any employee, executive, leader, manager or team—anyone who wants to move the dial on innovation, inclusion, appreciation of diversity, or to improve the culture at their organization.

Photo by Wilhelm Gunkel on Unsplash

Learn More About FlashPoint's Psychological Safety Offerings

Kara Janssen

Kara Janssen creates engaging content that connects our clients to the FlashPoint brand and mission, helping them grow as leaders.