I spent the three-day Memorial weekend in Mammoth Mountain, snowboarding and relaxing with my Dad. I finally arrived at 11pm after an eight-hour drive from San Francisco to Mammoth. As I unpacked I noticed my dad had brought with him plenty of food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, not to mention plenty of snacks and wine. The frustrating realization came to me that I hadn’t even thought to bring food. I was shocked. Normally I’m overly prepared for trips, the token young adult who plans the entire weekend in advance, packing for every possible situation. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought once to bring food!
I didn’t think to bring food because in the back of my mind I knew my dad was accompanying me. He is one of the two parents who brought me up, who took care of me and fed me my whole life. I wasn’t thinking because somewhere my subconscience knew my dad would take care of everything. I had an innate lack of responsibility, limiting me from thinking of all the outcomes, hindering me from being prepared.
My exciting Memorial Day grocery story translates directly to the work environment, when us do-ers don’t have an opportunity to fail, the same opportunity that drives us to success, happiness, and satisfaction. When accountability is given to us, we’re more productive. We think more critically. And we remember to bring the damn groceries.
I’ve always thrived on responsibility. The more accountable I feel, the harder and smarter I work. Without accountability I can’t feel a sense of ownership over my work. I need to be given an opportunity to fail to really feel accountable. And without accountability I won’t be productive; I won’t think for myself. I won’t think when someone else thinks for me, when someone else is ultimately responsible for my work, for my impact. Accountability breeds ownership, giving us that beautiful sense of satisfaction when we can tell we’ve made a difference.
Working at a small startup usually by default gives you accountability. But in many cases, especially in medium and larger companies, managers need to work to give accountability. Accountability breeds productive, happy employees. A good leader will do the company and her subordinates a favor by sharing accountability with everyone. For accountability gives us the opportunity at the ultimate goal–happiness through satisfaction, the opportunity to see ourselves make a real impact.