Accountability: What It Looks Like at Every Level in Your Organization

May 25, 2021Insights

Want to build a winning company culture? The kind that attracts top talent, delights customers, and reminds you every day why you love being an entrepreneur? It starts with accountability, and not just your own.

Empowering each and every team member with accountability will help you see the weeds without getting lost in them. Of course, it is important to understand the word accountability means different things in different roles—and is unique to each person.


Administrative Staff

Let’s start with the people who perform critical tasks and functions on a daily basis, from marketing, sales, and customer service to production, finance, operations, and any other departments specific to your business. They are responsible for doing their jobs, communicating with one another, and reporting to managers. Administrative employees are in the forest, creating the ecosystem that makes the company run. Because they are so heavily and consistently involved, they usually have an honest and accurate assessment of factors that make or break a company’s success—like productivity, efficiency, customer satisfaction, and the big one, company culture.



In the next layer of the forest, managers are accountable to their direct reports and the C-suite, simultaneously. Managers keep things and people moving. They are subject matter experts trusted with a degree of autonomy to make decisions within their departments and expertise. In the process, they are “managing up,” or equipping and enabling senior leaders to steer the business.


Senior Leaders

In the C-suite, accountability balloons beyond one’s self. Yes, everyone at every level should feel connected to the company’s mission—but senior leaders are the ones who must truly embody it. Senior leadership is equal parts business and people management. Individually and collectively, the executive team is accountable for turning information into action and driving positive change for the organization as a whole.


Business Owner

Fiscal responsibility. Social responsibility. Reputation. Customer retention. As a business owner, you have accountability written all over you. There’s a lot to manage, but it all ties back to company culture.

In the New York Times bestseller, “How Full Is Your Bucket?” Gallup authors Tom Rath and Don Clifton explain “how even the briefest interactions affect your relationships, productivity, health, and longevity” using the metaphor of a dipper and a bucket. Make someone feel appreciated, and you are adding to their bucket of happiness in work and in life. Make them feel unimportant, and you are depleting it. Perhaps your greatest responsibility of all is to create a company with clear purpose, direction, and opportunities for your employees to fill their buckets with the right amount of accountability.


By Andrea Steinbrenner, Chief Operations Officer, Exit Consulting Group