The Industrial Revolutions of the past have always disrupted the job market though they have not decreased levels of employment, in fact levels of employment rose. Technology makes some goods and services cheaper, freeing up more money to spend on other things. Technology also makes it easier to meet old needs and creates new needs never envisioned.

The issue is not technology, the issue is we need to change the services we as human capital exchange for money. And no change occurs without first taking accountability for your change. Victims don’t change!

Accountability falls under Emotional Intelligence as accountability enables you to own, identify and manage your emotions and thus utilize them more effectively for tasks such as thinking and problem- solving both of which are key to innovation.

Article written by Wendy Mahoney and view her full profile at Conference Speakers

“If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.”



Accountable employees have high levels of self-awareness that enables them to better understand themselves and their impact on stakeholders. They are not as sensitive to stakeholder criticism, remaining focused on results and deadlines rather than being side-tracked by offense. This also enables them to learn at a faster rate from mistakes which is key to innovation and harnessing support from others through respect for their actions.  

These employees are usually your change agents as they understand how key change is to results and of course innovation. Accountable employees are aware of their weaknesses and constantly strive to develop themselves making them more likely to possess a growth mindset essential to innovation as opposed to a close mindset.

Accountability and responsibility are often used interchangeably, but these words have distinct meanings that separate them and their roles in the workplace. Responsibility is task-oriented. Every person on a team may be responsible for a given task that is required to complete a project. Accountability is what happens after a situation has occurred. It is how you respond and take ownership over the results.


Accountability is about delivering on a commitment, not simply taking blame when something does not go accordingly. It is a focus on outcomes as opposed to tasks and about taking initiative and considered, strategic follow-through.

In order to foster an environment of accountability people need to know what is expected of them, how to exercise authority and take responsibility for their results. It is crucial then that roles being clearly clarified including key deliverables. McKinsey state accountability as a key driver in organisational performance.

During the economic slowdown of 2008, Starbucks took a hit whereby 600 stores closed and profit fell by 28%. Leadership during that time blamed the economy and increased price of dairy for the downfall. That was until Howard Shultz came back as CEO after leaving eight years prior. He held leadership accountable rather than blaming things that cannot be controlled, like the economy and dairy prices..


Some ways in which to build accountability are to:

  1. Ask questions: Questions help people deconstruct the details of performance and consider alternatives without becoming defensive.
  2. Create humiliation-free zones: Performance standards should not be intended to “name and shame.” It is the leaders responsibility to create a safe space where problems can be solved, rather than simply blaming individuals.
  3. Break big goals into specific elements: Analysing the details that accumulate to produce either failure or success can make it easier to identify steps for improvement. This also makes it easier to find strengths as well as weaknesses.


Teams operating without WHY IS ACCOUNTABILITY KEY TO INNOVATION? are more likely to breed mediocrity and resentment between team members with differing standards, miss deadlines and rely too heavily on discipline to alter a course of action.

Without accountability one cannot adapt and in the Exponential Age it’s as simple as adapt or die.

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