Accountability in the Era of Social Media

Accountability is becoming even more important in the 21st Century business. In an age of ubiquitous social media and cell-phone videos, Big Brother’s watchful eyes seem to loom large.

Rudeness, politically incorrect slips of the tongue and outrageous conduct are digitally captured and immediately shared on YouTube and gossipy websites. Politicians, celebrities, sports heroes and even average Joes are caught in the act and publicly shamed for bad behavior.

“Accountability should be the strongest thread that runs through the complex fabric of any organization. It is the single biggest issue confronting organizations today, particularly those engaged in enterprise-wide change efforts.”

      — CEOs Roger Connors and Tom Smith,

Change the Culture, Change the Game: The Breakthrough Strategy for Energizing Your Organization and Creating Accountability for Results

    (Portfolio Hardcover, 2011)

In some of my conversations with clients, I’m finding that more than ever, executives are concerned about accountability. Today’s business leaders are increasingly aware of the public’s intolerance of greed, elitism, privileged excess and just plain mistakes.

Leaders know that one careless customer experience can easily go viral, ruining corporate reputations and wrecking careers. They must therefore be transparent, conscientious and responsible to their global constituents, never forgetting that employees, customers and the community at large will hold them and their employees to the highest standards.

Each of us requires a thorough understanding of accountability’s role in our daily work lives. Without it, individual and organizational success cannot be sustained.

Reframing Accountability

Accountability refers to your answerability, blameworthiness and liability. Leaders must acknowledge and assume responsibility for their actions, products, decisions and policies, including administration, governance and implementation. They’re obligated to report, explain and be answerable for any and all consequences.

In governance, accountability’s definition has expanded beyond “being called to account for one’s actions.” Proper accounting practices must be in place. Without them, accountability is effectively absent.

Business leaders must also insist on accountability at all levels of the workplace hierarchy. Employees should be expected to operate within a culture of personal responsibility and be held accountable to their peers, teams and the organization.

What do you think about the issue of accountability as it is now practiced in your work place? Are people held accountable for their actions or inaction? Are people more conscientious? Do people feel responsible for the organization’s reputation and services?

I work with leaders and teams on building/creating Cultures of Trust and Accountability. I’d love to hear from you, leave a comment.


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