Assessing and Developing the Competency of PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY (35th competency in Workitect’s Competency Dictionary)

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

  1. a) Willingly accepts ownership for the leadership and effectiveness of the organization; looks for ways to make a difference
  2. b) Consistently demonstrates a positive can-do, overcome-any- barrier attitude
  3. c) 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
  4. d) Recognizes what one can and can’t control; focuses energy on areas that one can affect rather than on things one can’t
  5. e) Coaches others to instill a sense of accountability; uses ownership as a way to empower people towards greater results
  6. f) Acknowledges own mistakes and limitations; seeks and accepts constructive criticism


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.


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.

Pages from Workitect's Competency Development Guide

From Workitect’s Competency Development Guide featuring actionable tips and resources for the development of 35 competencies.


  • 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.


Let co-workers 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.


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.


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.


By May 5, I will identify one situation when I successfully took responsibility for a mistake and owned it. I will note my own response to the situation and the responses of others.

By June 21, I will work with my manager to role play taking responsibility for my actions and will note my successes and opportunities for improvement.



Accountable Leaders: Inspire a Culture Where Everyone Steps Up, Takes Ownership, and Delivers Results, by Vince Molinaro. 272 pages. Wiley, 2020.

Accountability Leadership: How Great Leaders Build a High-Performance Culture of Accountability and Responsibility, by DI Worrall. 132 pages. Worrall & Associates, 2013.

Accountability: The Key to Driving a High-Performance Culture, by Greg Bustin. 320 pages. McGraw-Hill Education, 2014.

Balanced Accountability: Leadership Secrets to Win Hearts and Maximize Performance, by Hernani Alves. 222 pages. Balanced IQ Consulting, 2019.

Crucial Accountability: Tools for Resolving Violated Expectations, Broken Commitments, and Bad Behavior, by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, Switzler, and Maxfield. 304 pages. McGraw-Hill Education, 2013.

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. Wiley, 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 Roger Connors, Tom Smith, and Craig Hickman. Portfolio Hardcover, 2005.

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

Winning with Accountability: The Secret Language of High-Performing Organizations, by Henry Evans. 101 pages. CornerStone Leadership Institute, 2008.

 WORKSHOPS & COURSES – PUBLIC, ONSITE, ONLINE Educations Media Group (EMG). 10+ courses

LinkedIn Learning. 40+ online courses.

Building Accountability. Three- hour program. Eagle’s Flight. Tel. 800-567-8079

Accountability: Taking Ownership of Your Responsibility. Booklet and one hour on-demand webinar. Center for Creative Leadership Tel. 336-288-7210.

Emotional Intelligence at Work. Six hours online. FutureLearn.

Foundational Skills of Emotional Intelligence. Six online paths. Everwise. Tel. 888-250 6219.

How to Improve Employee Accountability. One day seminar. Pryor Learning. Tel. 800 780-8476.



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