Please raise your hand if you have a definition of “personal accountability.” 

Here’s mine:  Personal accountability happens when you’re willing to answer for the outcome resulting from your choice, your action, or your behavior.

I like to think that in most situations, I take personal accountability for what happens, good or bad, from the beginning to the end.  To be clear, I’m not too much a fan of blame.  I’d rather work on a solution which, in a nutshell, is why I’m a divorce mediator.  Practically on a daily basis, I hear “she cheated on me,” or “he’s a narcissist.”  I cannot do anything with those statements other than encourage the divorcing couple to put away their rearview mirrors, take some personal accountability for their own actions rather than blaming each other, and begin to move forward with their lives.  Easier said than done.

There are several concrete benefits for each of us to have some personal accountability.  Our relationships with family and friends will undoubtedly benefit, and so will our careers.  Obviously, accountability builds trust.  It can also save time and money. 

In order to assess your own accountability, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you tend to procrastinate or move forward?
  • Do you praise your family/friends or tend to tear them down?
  • Do you envy the achievements of others or are you eager to emulate them?
  • Do you point fingers or solve problems?
  • Do you try to change others before attempting to change yourself?


If you think you might need to add some tools to your accountability toolbox, perhaps I can help.

First, and foremost, have a clear understanding of your own responsibilities.  If you’re on the office holiday party committee and you volunteer to be in charge of catering, make sure you stay in your own lane.  If you’re not sure what’s expected of you, ask in advance.

Next, practice effective time and stress management.  If you’re committed to food-tasting for the party, limit yourself to three caterers and no more.  Make sure you’ve allowed some extra time for the unexpected.  When we over-commit ourselves or cut our timing too closely, the accountability factor can suffer.

Finally, be honest with yourself and with others.  If your caterer flakes out last minute, admit your mistake in not confirming the details, apologize for any shortcomings you may have had in the decision-making process, and then ask for help.  Problem-solving instead of shirking your responsibilities shows a great deal of personal accountability, as well as overall good character.

In the aftermath, whether it’s the office holiday party or a fundraising event for your kid’s football team, gather the troops and debrief.  Show your leadership skills while demonstrating your personal integrity by asking what went well and what needed improvement.  Without taking the conversation on a negative path (i.e., blame), you can hold the caterers accountable for their lack of integrity and state what you’ll do differently in the future.  

If you know someone whose accountability game needs a refresh, please share.