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Personal Accountability

Takes responsibility for the results and future direction of the organization.

An employee demonstrating this competency:

  • Willingly accepts ownership for the leadership and effectiveness of the organization; looks for ways to make a difference 
  • Consistently demonstrates a positive can-do, overcome any barrier attitude
  • Focuses attention on determining what can be done to make progress rather than on why it can’t be done or blaming others for problems
  • Recognizes what one can and can’t control; focuses energy on areas that one can affect rather than on things one can’t
  • Coaches others to instill a sense of accountability; uses ownership as a way to empower people towards greater results
  • Acknowledges own mistakes and limitations; seeks and accepts constructive criticism

Importance of this Competency

Ownership (Personal Accountability) is your ability to identify and take the responsibility for completing the work while focusing on the result. Someone who demonstrates Personal Accountability accepts responsibility for mistakes and learns from them, enabling others to rely on them to accomplish tasks. Personal Accountability is characterized by a sense of ownership of your work and your organization and avoiding blame or finger-pointing when things go wrong. Personal Accountability is the ability to focus on the result, boost team morale, encourage creativity and flexibility for change, and solve problems. Demonstrating Personal Accountability can lead to improved customer service, for both internal and external customers, and more effective and highly-functioning teams.

Someone who lacks personal accountability is likely to be seen as one who blames others for problems, complains frequently, and procrastinates.

General Considerations in Developing this Competency
Since Personal Accountability involves taking responsibility for one’s actions and behaviors, it can be developed through practice. You can enhance your Personal Accountability by reviewing past mistakes and identifying opportunities for responding differently to the situation. Enhance Personal Accountability by becoming more aware of your own actions and how your actions affect the organization and others. 
Practicing this Competency

  • Describe a work decision you made that you wish you could do over.
  • Volunteer for tasks that allow you to take personal responsibility for outcomes.
  • Volunteer for leadership roles.
  • Accept responsibility for your mistakes; avoid blaming others.
  • Seek development opportunities that will enhance your knowledge or skills.
  • Look for ways to make a difference in the organization.
  • Consistently demonstrates a positive can-do attitude.
  • Focus on what is possible, rather than what is a challenge.
  • Coach others to instill a sense of accountability.
  • Empower others towards greater results.
  • Acknowledge your mistakes and limitations and accept constructive criticism.

Obtaining Feedback

Let coworkers know that you are working to enhance your Personal Accountability. Show them the definition and behaviors for this competency. Ask them to observe you over a one-month period and let you know when you do something that either detracts from or enhances your demonstration of this competency.

Learning from Experts

Observe someone who demonstrates a high level of Personal Accountability. Look for evidence of the behaviors associated with this competency. Note what the person does that seems to enhance his/her ownership.

Coaching Suggestions for Managers

If you are coaching someone who is trying to develop this competency, you can:

  • Model this competency in your own personal interactions, by fulfilling promises, demonstrating honesty, reflecting honestly on your own actions, and respecting confidences.
  • Make sure that the person has realistic but challenging goals and the information and resources needed to achieve these goals.
  • Encourage this person to volunteer for assignments or responsibilities that will build this person’s ability to demonstrate personal accountability.
  • Remain in touch with the person and stay informed about his/her person’s progress in developing this competency. Reinforce positive behaviors.

Sample Development Goals



How Did That Happen? Holding People Accountable for Results the Positive, Principled Way by Roger Connors and Tom Smith. Portfolio Hardcover, 2009.

No More Excuses: The Five Accountabilities for Personal and Organizational Growth by Sam Silverstein. Wily, 2010.

Outstanding!: 47 Ways to Make Your Organization Exceptional, by John G. Miller. New York, NY: Putnam Adult, 2010.

Personal Accountability: Powerful and Practical Ideas for You and Your Organization
by John Miller. Denver Press,1999.

The 85% Solution: How Personal Accountability Guarantees Success, No Nonsense, No Excuses, by Linda Galindo..Jossey-Bass, 2005.

The Accountable Leader: Developing Effective Leadership Through Managerial Accountability, by Brian Dive. Great Britain: Kogan Page Publishers, 2008.

The Oz Principle: Getting Results Through Individual and Organizational Accountability by Craig Hickman, Roger Connors and Tom Smith, New York, Penguin Group, 2010.

The Power of Personal Accountability: Achieve What Matters To You, by Mark Samuel and Sophie Chiche. Xephor Press, 2004.


Managing and Achieving Goals. American Management Association. Tel. 800 250-5308. http://www.amaselfstudy.org/course.cfm?isbn=9780761213918&page=TOC


Achieving Personal Excellence. Two days. Gloria Starr. Tel. 866 239-2422. www.gloriastarr.com/programs.htm

Building Better Work Relationships: New Techniques for Results-Oriented Communication. Three days. American Management Association. Tel. 877 566-9441. www.amanet.org/seminars/seminar.cfm?basesemno=2235

Extraordinary Leadership. Four and half days. United States Office of Personnel Management. Tel 202 606-1800. https://www.leadership.opm.gov/Programs/Skill-Immersion/TEL/Index.aspx

The Oz Principle® Accountability Training®. One Day. The Accountability Training Company. Tel. 800 504-6070. http://www.ozprinciple.com/index.php.

The Question Behind the Question Personal Accountability Training. The Rainmaker Group. Tel 866 988-RAIN. http://www.personalaccountabilityatwork.com/QBQ%20Training.htm.


See Appendix