Could you explain the difference between "taking accountability for something" and "taking responsibility for something"? Most of us use the terms interchangeably and conflate their meanings. Understanding the difference is one of the most important keys to improving performance and execution. If you are frustrated with your team and overwhelmed with work, you are probably missing opportunities for real ownership.
My long-time friend Dan Haygeman authored the most impressive feat of facilitation I ever experienced when I first saw him work almost 25 years ago. I've not really seen better since.
He was working with a large group of people in a personal growth course, helping everyone grapple with one of the most difficult subjects we deal with in our industry.
Personal accountability is a great challenge for most people.
We all have a very strong bias to cause and effect thinking: "If I get a result I like, I must have done something right; If I got one I don't like I must have done something wrong." You likely agree with this and even if you think you don't there is a very good chance you operate as if it's true anyway.
All my results are due in some part to my actions and some part to luck. Luck is the net affect of all external forces acting in my environment that I have no control over. Luck, whether "bad" or "good" often plays a very large role in my results and I am tempted to take credit for it if it's a result I like or blame the external forces if I don't.
It's easier to "own" results we have direct control over.
Any asshole can do that. Nothing special there. The real challenge is to own the large number of results that I had little or no control or even influence over: the good and bad shit that just happens.
On the last day, Dan had recalled that one of his participants had identified as "single but looking". She felt frustrated and had tried all sorts of things to land a good mate and nothing was working. She was resistant to the idea that this was in any way a result she was accountable for. She was stuck on the idea that to own something bad was to accept the blame for causing it. Dan had something different in mind.
Ownership is not about credit, fault, blame or excuses.
Mr. Haygeman broke the back of it on the last day when he said to her, "Ok, let's say that the man of your dreams wanders in here unannounced, takes one look at you and decides that you are the woman he wants; what did you do to make that happen?" She thought for a moment, "Well, nothing". Dan looked her straight in the eye and landed the final blow, "but he'd be yours to deal with". That's my friend Dan. Accountability is an attitude. Responsibility is an action. Ownership leads to empowerment, a bigger idea than control.