Building an accountability culture

“Khun Kriengsak, I want to create an accountability culture in my company. How do I do that?” asks Bundit.

“Khun Bundit, tell me more.”

He outlines a vision of his company and its strategies and says, “In order to achieve these things, I need to create an accountability culture.”

“Khun Bundit, can you elaborate more on the word accountability?”

“I like the definition from the book The OZ Principle: Getting Results through Individual and Organisational Accountability by Roger Connors, Tom Smith and Craig Hickman.” They write:

“Accountability: an attitude of continually asking ‘what else can I do to rise above my circumstances and achieve the results I desire?’ It is the process of ‘seeing it, owning it, solving it, and doing it’. It requires a level of ownership that includes making, keeping, and proactively answering for personal commitments. It is a perspective that embraces both current and future efforts rather than reactive and historical explanations.”

“I see. You seem to know what you want. How do you plan to create it?”

“Coach, there are systematic guides in this book. I will learn and apply them.”

“Khun Bundit, what are you concerned about then?”

“My team. I have 10 direct reports. Half of them are not good role models for this definition. They are more reactive _ they wait and see the direction from me, come up with a moderate solution, and lack a holistic approach. They’re more in silo mode. What should I do with them?”

“What do you think?”

“I don’t know. Do you have any ideas?”

“I came across a good quotation from the book Talking Shop: ‘You cannot renew a company without revitalising its people,’ quoted by Christopher Bartlett, an Australian business writer. Khun Bundit, how would you revitalise your top five members?”

“Coach, I’ve already told them. But they haven’t changed.”

“Khun Bundit, did you do exactly as your boss told me?”



“My boss doesn’t know about my situation, my circumstances and my style.” He pauses for a moment, and then exclaims, “I got it.”

“What is it Khun Bundit?”

“I don’t understand them much.”

“How could you understand them better?”

“I need to ask them.”

“Why don’t you do that and let’s discuss it the next time we meet?”

Two weeks later, we meet again.

“Coach, after I met five individuals separately, each gave his own reasons.”

“Did you spot a pattern?”

“I did. One pattern that they didn’t explicitly discuss is the comfort zone. They didn’t want to leave their comfort zone.”

“Khun Bundit, what’s your plan?”

“I need to create a sense of urgency for them.”

“Do they each individually share the same motivation?”

“No, they don’t. Then, I have to facilitate this change individually. But that takes time. I don’t have time for them.”


“There are so many things to do.”

“That’s a fact of life. What is your top priority for this year?”

“Building this accountability culture. So what do I do about the other things?”

“What alternatives do you have?”

“I don’t.”

“Khun Bundit, let’s do some role playing. What if you discovered that you have a cancer and you had only one year to live. What would you do about your work today?”

“I will focus all my effort to building this culture.”

“What would you do for the other work?”

“I would classify the work into these categories: assign someone to do it now; assign someone to do it later; let the new CEO decide after I’m gone; drop it.”

“You see, you have at least four choices.”

“I get it, coach. Then, this year I have to coach these top five members of my teams. Are there some coaching tips you could share with me?”

“Here are some based on my experience. You have to judge which ones apply for you:

– Know yourself first. Learn about yours beliefs, values and motives.

– Understand that “Different strokes for different folks.” Different people like different things. Each person has different motives, beliefs and values. It’s difficult to learn what they are. But you really need to understand them before you can inspire them to change.

– Each individual requires a different transformation period. Be patient.

– We cannot change anyone. We can only help others to change. So you have to make each person see the benefit from the change from that person’s perspective, not from yours.

– When you want to change someone, you’re challenging that person’s motives, beliefs or values. What’s so true to that person may not seem rational to you. Don’t judge. To do that, you really need to understand your own motives, beliefs and values and stay neutral.”