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Shifting From a Culture of Accountability to a Culture of Responsibility

Shifting From a Culture of Accountability to a Culture of Responsibility
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We were working with a manufacturing company when we received a phone call from one of the VPs. That morning the CEO held their regular standing accountability huddle meeting, after which four people left crying.  The CEO had let them know they were not making the numbers he had set for them and was taking it out on each individual in the room for their failure. Employee engagement was at an all-time low. After speaking with the CEO that evening we learned that he thought he was very calm and empathetic, but that he needed them to know they were not being accountable for making their numbers.

Due to poor performance, the CEO was let go. The head of sales was put in charge. At the new leader’s first meeting with the leadership team, he asked “What do we do now?”  The energy in the room went up dramatically with people asking, “Do you really want to know what we think needs to be done?” To which the new CEO responded “Yes, what is the responsible thing to do?”

That shift from having reports be accountable for what the leader wanted done, to them feeling responsible for results was huge! The new CEOs engagement intrinsically motivated the leadership team to take responsibility for the decisions they were making.   This shift in responsibility started a culture change as dramatic as any we have seen. Union line workers who had previously told us their place of employment was determined by the price of gas (the cheaper the gas the further they would drive for better pay) were coming forward with suggestions on how equipment could be better maintained and run.

The shift from a culture of accountability to one of responsibility changed the lives of hundreds of team members.