Accountability: Taking Ownership, Taking Action


Feb 15
Dog retrieving bumper from river
Peter Smith, CEO & president of AMERICAN SYSTEMS

Peter Smith, CEO & president of AMERICAN SYSTEMS

​Accountability can be a bit of a corporate buzzword these days. What does it mean? How can ​implementing a focus on accountability ​improve the ​workplace culture? What would your office look like if each team member too personal responsibility for seeing, owning, and solving problems?

​Peter Smith is the president and CEO of AMERICAN SYSTEMS, an engineering and IT solutions firm that specializes in complex national priority projects for the government. He joined me to talk about how ​focusing on the culture at AMERICAN SYSTEMS has had a dramatic impact on the company's key results and provided other benefits as well:

  • ​Greater transparency and openness
  • Enhanced teamwork and trust
  • More effective communication
  • Better execution and follow-through
  • Sharper clarity
  • Tighter focus on results

​AMERICAN SYSTEMS used ideas and strategies from Partners in Leadership, the authors of the Oz Principle and Change the Culture, Change the Game.

Sometimes people are uncomfortable with the word "accountability." It can sound critical, too judgmental. Yes, taking action to improve your workplace will require some changes, but it isn't about pointing out the flaws in others; it's about seeing opportunities for improvement and making a personal commitment to doing your best work.

​I​t helps to come together as a team to decide on some shared values. For AMERICAN SYSTEMS, they chose four:

  • ​Be engaged
  • ​Better together
  • Create opportunities
  • Bid smart

Having shared values is invaluable. When If friction crops up between coworkers, the values create a common ground to build upon. Our conversation touched briefly on the most typical reasons people get ruffled feathers--perceived threats to their status, certainty, autonomy, relationships, or fairness.

The gorgeous dog above helps me remember those five variables.

​Think about the last issue in your workplace. I'll bet you a dog biscuit that it was related to one of these. 

​​How do you take personal responsibility for improving your work environment? How about your personal relationships? What ​values would bring your team together? 

Share what you do and how it helps you in the comments below.

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