217 words on the word “Accountable”

217 Words on the word AccountableLessons we learn by listening to how people use words. Words are the foundation of our corporate culture.

This term, “Accountability”, gets thrown around a ton in my world, and, frankly, I believe it is:

  1. misused, and,
  2. speaks a thousand words about the person using it.

The way a Leader or Manager use the words Accountable or Accountability reveals if they tend toward Leadership or Management.

Please answer this by putting an X beside the sentence that describes what you want, A or B. Be honest and choose your first “come to mind”.

___ A – I want an organization where I can hold my people accountable.


___ B – I want an organization where my people hold themselves accountable.


Can you see and feel the difference between these two sentences?

Folks often say A. when they really mean B. They never say B, when they mean A.

Honestly, being true to yourself, what do you really want? A or B >>> it is key to know thy self.

These questions could be written more clearly using the words responsible * and accountable**.

___ C – I want an organization where I can hold my people responsible.* (Managing)


___ D – I want an organization where my people hold themselves accountable.** (Leading)

I listen closely to my client’s language. If they are A or C they tend toward and like Management, if they are B or D they tend toward and prefer Leadership.

Words make a big difference, their proper and consistent use are the foundation of every unique company culture.

Know they self.


** Accountability v. * Responsibility


Merriam Webster and Oxford Definitions of Accountability, Accountable, Responsibility and Responsible below:


noun \ə-ˌkau̇n-tə-ˈbi-lə-tē\

: the quality or state of being accountable;

(Oxford The fact or condition of being accountable)


adjective \ə-ˈkau̇n-tə-bəl\

: required to explain actions or decisions to someone

(Oxford) (Of a person, organization, or institution) required or expected to justify actions or decisions)


noun \ri-ˌspän(t)-sə-ˈbi-lə-tē\

: the state of being the person who caused something to happen

: a duty or task that you are required or expected to do

(Oxford The state or fact of having a duty to deal with something or of having control over someone)


adjective \ri-ˈspän(t)-sə-bəl\

: having the job or duty of dealing with or taking care of something or someone

(Oxford: Having an obligation to do something, or having control over or care for someone, as part of one’s job or role)



Related Posts

The Grinch with No Process

Everyone knows about the Grinch, that angry, green guy who hated Christmas with a passion. Most people don’t know why he had this disdain for Christmas. That’s what I’ll tell you about today. You see, he was the Grinch with no process.

Read on »

Use Your Accountability Chart™ to Create Job Descriptions

If you’ve ever tried to write a job description from scratch, you know how painful it can be. You want to cover the most important aspects of a role without bogging it down with too many specifics. You already have all the pieces you need right at your fingertips. You can use your Accountability Chart to create job descriptions.

Read on »

Blaming Others … Losing Your Power

When a manager blames others for the tough decisions or news that they have to deliver to their direct report(s), they give their power away, they lose the respect of their people, and it creates resentment, a lack of trust, and organizational dysfunction.

Read on »

Subscribe to the EOS Blog

Subscribe to the EOS Blog:


Base Camp


Client Portal



Search the EOS Worldwide Blog