Characteristics of a Successful Employee: Accountability

Let’s begin with the parable today. The parable of the two sons is found in Matthew 21:28-31.

“Tell me what you think of this story: A man had two sons. He went up to the first and said, ‘Son, go out for the day and work in the vineyard.’

“The son answered, ‘I don’t want to.’ Later on he thought better of it and went.

“The father gave the same command to the second son. He answered, ‘Sure, glad to.’ But he never went.

“Which of the two sons did what the father asked?”

They said, “The first.”

In half of the companies I have worked for, accountability was an issue. Miriam-Webster defines accountability as the willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions. I found it very interesting how companies can be successful when there are major issues of accountability.

If a person has an issue accepting responsibility or owning up to their actions, then they will have an issue with long term success. Everyone makes mistakes. There was only one perfect person who ever lived and He is waiting to return at the end of the age. Understanding we will make mistakes in our work life and be willing to be accountable for those mistakes is an important characteristic to learn early in a career.

We learn to make excuses at an early age. Think back to your childhood. Did you ever blame something on someone else, even when you did it? Maybe you broke something or ate a cookie you were not suppose to. We have all done it. I remember early in my career I was with my manager when the Vice President of Operations came up to ask about an issue. It turned out the issue touched my area, though my part of the process was not the issue. When I was asked a direct question, I responded that it wasn’t my fault or responsibility. The Vice President blew up and let me know that I need to feel accountable for the success of the process, even if the issue was not directly related to the part I did. Especially since it was just two of us on the process.

That day, I learned the importance of being accountable and taking responsibility. Ever since, even when I didn’t own all of it, I would step up and say I will solve the issue. By being accountable and taking responsibility to solve the problem was a major characteristic of my success. Managers see that kind characteristic and makes a huge impact in their thinking.

I recommend not to do what either son in the parable did. I recommend saying you will do it and then doing it. But it certainly is better to say no and then do it versus saying yes and then not. Neither are a recipe for success, but the underlying heavenly principle around being accountable certainly is. The first so ultimately took responsibility and was accountable for his actions.

What do you think? Do you have any stories you can share?


2 thoughts on “Characteristics of a Successful Employee: Accountability

  1. I agree this is important for employees, but also for management as well. Many employees could probably tell you of a time when the person above them made a mistake and then blamed them for it, it doesn’t do a lot for moral.
    Accountability is a good thing no matter what position a person holds!


    1. Yes, managers and leaders have to be role models. Unfortunately, too many did not learn good habits before they became managers. While we can try to help managers change, the long term play is to help employees (especially new and younger employees) to learn the valuable characteristics before they get into management.

      Thanks for the insight. I appreciate your thoughts!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s