Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management

How accountability leads to success

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Accountability leads to success. Why? When people take responsibility for their actions they make changes that lead them to do things differently, to do new things and/or to stop doing things that held them back. This may sound simplistic, but its true.

12weekyearWhat does the word ‘accountability’ mean? In his book THE 12 WEEK YEAR: Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months (a great book; I’ll write more about the overall concepts in a future post), author Brian P. Moran defines accountability as, “simply taking ownership of one’s actions and results.” Once we accept that our actions have consequences, then we are empowered to create the results we desire. “The fact of the matter is that successful people are accountable.”

Moran outlines four things you can do to foster greater accountability:

  1. Resolve never to be the victim again. Never make excuses. Focus on the things you can control. Take ownership of your thinking, actions and results.
  2. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. Take action to not let self-pity into your life. Learn to manage your thinking and your attitude.
  3. Be willing to take different actions. If you want different results, you have to do things differently. Taking action will change your outcome and your attitude.
  4. Associate with “Accountables.” Who you associate with matters. Build relationships with people who are accountable.

Michael Hyatt, leadership blogger and author, discusses why accountability is vital for leaders in a recent podcast. He tells us we should be accountable as an individual and as a leader. “When you make a mistake, own it. It will restore people’s confidence and increase your influence.” One of the things I love about this podcast is his emphasis on using the pronoun ‘I’ and owning your results.

The best example of leadership and accountability that I have ever witnessed is my wife. From the time our children were very young, she has taught them accountability (though I’ve never heard her use the word ‘accountability’ in her teaching). She has done a great job of defining consequences for their actions, and making sure they experience the full impact of their decisions; with no emotion I should add. Our children have learned to take ownership for their actions.

The only person you can hold accountable is yourself. You make your decisions; therefore, you are responsible. Embrace accountability, increase your success—it’s a simple formula.


The Product Management Perspective: Product managers are (or should be) leaders on their team(s). As the leader, you need to take accountability for your actions and decisions. Don’t hide behind excuses. Accept responsibility for your mistakes, take action to improve and be accountable for your decisions.

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