As I have been considering various changes in my approach to management, leadership, and IT in higher ed, I am reminded of the importance of accountability. This is one of the most important parts of a successful team – it is part of the foundation upon which productivity and teamwork rests. In fact, it is part of a critically important cycle that is self-reinforcing – each phase of the cycle helps strengthen the continuation of that process. Accountability begets ownership. Ownership leads to a sense of responsibility. Feeling responsible results in a greater understanding of accountability. And the cycle continues.
Accountability must be pervasive, as well. It cannot be just to one’s supervisor or manager that one is accountable for his or her activities and performance. Peers must feel that they are part of the success of each of their colleagues and the team in general. Conversely, not only should managers be able to hold staff accountable, but peers should have the ability to “call out” those that are not helping meet overall expectations.
The thing about accountability as a departmental, top-bottom, bottom-top, side-side trait is that nothing is explicitly confrontational. Even the most severe conversation becomes about team and goals, rather than personal slight. Instead of “you are messing up my ability to get my job done,” one can say “we must rely on each other to get this project done to achieve a common, team goal.” I realize, of course, that we do not live in a utopia and that the former statement will still occur even in the most collaborative of environments now and then. The point is that co-dependency can become the foundation for discussion in a system that relies on accountability and shared ownership.
The question, therefore, is how to build what I call a “platform” for accountability. Much in the way that Windows or Facebook is a platform for development of software, accountability can be the foundation upon which projects and communication is constructed. (more…)