The Business English language (yes, there is one) uses the word ‘accountability’ often associated to the word ‘taking’, as in ‘taking accountability’. This is different from accountability itself, or giving accountability, or seeking it. Taking means that, go and take. Although it could be assumed that it is taken because it is being given, the nuances of the language mean something more proactive: take it! Go and take it. “I am taking accountability’ has a built in spirit of proactivity.
Taking? Where from? There are the ones listed in your job description, for starters. However, your job description may be a bit geriatric, a bit in need of plastic surgery, a bit forgetful. And perhaps you also forgot about it, since it seems to have changed after the second day in the company.
Other than ‘your list’, the company is full of grey areas that don’t really quite belong to anybody, projects or ideas for projects that nobody seems to own fully, gaps and holes in need of care.
A sign of collective leadership is when managers and leaders ‘jump in’ and ‘take accountability’. No permission sought. In fact a good sign of collective leadership is when people don’t need many permissions.
Taking accountability, plus no permission asked, is high-octane fuel for the organization. If you get this right, you are in great place.
Unfortunately you can’t expect this to happen. Leaders going around saying, come on buddy, take accountability, does not work either.
Do you know how it works? Somebody (a true hero) starts doing it, other people copy, more people do that, suddenly it is the norm and ‘accepted’.
Top leaders that nurture this kind of environment, and rewards the takers, the adopters, the gap fillers, get it 100% right. ‘Accountability Takers’ are a gem. Don’t lose them.
Otherwise, if the company looks like an orphanage of good ideas, leadership has gone fishing. Don’t blame the orphans.