November 5, 2019

The Magic Accountability Button

Clinician Leadership | Leadership Development

Reading Time: 2 minutes

I have had an opportunity to work with Nursing Leadership cohorts as a partner with several great MEDI Leadership coaches. One of the issues that comes up with almost every group is “How can I increase accountability in the organization?”

They all wish they had a magic accountability button.

There are many ways to define accountability, but one I like to use is from a book called The Oz Principle: “A personal choice to rise above one’s circumstances and demonstrate the ownership necessary for achieving desired results.”

I have always found that employees want to do the right thing but sometimes, barriers or old habits get in the way of them being able to rise above their circumstances. They resort to putting out fires or going back to what they know.

To push that accountability button, several strategies can help.

  1. Get buy-in for the change and results needed. Without everyone’s buy-in, resistance to change will be natural. Make sure you clearly define the results desired and why they are important.
  2. Create alignment around those results. Once they understand the results needed and why, each individual can better alignment themselves around the process change needed or the goal to be accomplished.
  3. Become a barrier buster. If the job is not getting done, ask those doing it what is getting in their way. Often there is a solution that will take away that barrier. Instead of blame, focus on being part of the solution.
  4. Watch for victim thinking. At times, we can look through our glasses of victim thinking. It’s not my fault. It wasn’t my idea. It’s too hard for anyone to do. I can’t do it. Maybe if I ignore it, it will go away. Listen for those stories and be curious. What makes them think that way? Listen and support. Challenge them to put on their accountability glasses instead.
  5. Engage the hearts and minds of people instead of telling them what to do. We all have parts of our job that we don’t enjoy doing but know we need to in order to make things better in the long run. Find those motivations within their heart [the purpose of their work] and their minds [knowing what’s best for the company].

Creating a culture of accountability generates a productive and enjoyable place to work!

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About the author

Debra Harrison, DNP, RN, NEA-BC

Debra Harrison, DNP, RN, NEA-BC was the Chief Nursing Officer for Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida from 2006–2016. She retired in May 2016 and joined MEDI as an Executive Coach early 2017.

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