Accountability Is Also About What Not To Do

Culture Change

Knowing when it isn’t your business.

TAKE A LOOK AROUND – at your employees or leaders at work, kids or family members at home, politicians or candidates in government or at yourself in how you conduct your life – and you’ll see plenty of reasons why we need more accountability. Taking 100% ownership in our commitments and relationships would reduce the drama, finger pointing and hamster-spinning-arguments that never seem to end.

But our approach to accountability is missing a very important component: Accountability is not just about what you or others do, it’s also about what we shouldn’t do. Driven by an addiction for drama and a spring-loaded reaction to injustice, we get involved where we shouldn’t. “Keep your nose where it doesn’t belong,” and “don’t make your business other people’s business” speak to this idea.

  • How many times do you talk about other people behind their back?
  • When have you lost sleep over the poor decisions of a family member?
  • When have you witnessed a co-worker grab more credit for a project, they contributed very little to?

These and other situations are examples of how the actions of others can push our buttons because they seem unfair or we are afraid of what could happen. But, before you try to devise a plan of how you are going to respond, ask yourself these simple questions:

  • Is this my issue?
  • Is this my business?

Or, is the best thing for me (and possibly for the other person), to not do a thing?

I don’t advocate not taking the appropriate action – we all know how that can turn out – but do a gut-check before you obsess about that person, make that call or confront that boss. It may not be your business to do so.

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“Boundaries define us. They define what is me and what is not me. A boundary shows me where I end and someone else begins, leading me to a sense of ownership. Knowing what I am to own and take responsibility for gives me freedom.”
– Henry Cloud