I attended a presentation this past week in which the thesis was “Employees are most engaged when they are accountable”.  Accountability in its own right is a great employee characteristic.  However, accountability is a difficult to identify characteristic.  What makes a person accountable?  Can accountability be developed?  How do we know accountability when we see it?  The following language might be useful in describing how someone behaves in an accountable way and get us closer to answers:

Commitment—The willingness to do whatever it takes to get results

Resilience–The ability to stay the course in the face of obstacles and setbacks

Ownership–The acceptance of the consequences of our actions, good and bad

Continuous learning–The perspective to see failure and success as learning experiences to fuel repeated success. 

Each of these characteristics can be captured in behaviors or examples of behaviors, say in an interview or in a performance review.  I used this vocabulary with examples to talk to my teenagers about what it looks like to “do your best”–which often gets interpreted as being perfect.  This might be useful vocabulary or concepts in your discussion with the team leaders (or your kids).

Jonathan Shaver