Accountability quotes: 7 of the best for the workplace

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What does accountability at work mean to you?

We’ll give you some excellent accountability quotes to inspire you and your team members, but first, let’s look at what accountability means in the broadest sense of the word, and then how it applies to people management. 

The Britannia dictionary defines accountability as being “required to explain actions or decisions to someone”, or “required to be responsible for something”.

That’s rather a vague definition when it comes to the workplace, though. It could simply mean that a team member was responsible one day for getting coffee for everyone, and then be required to explain why they went to Starbucks for it instead of the locally-owned coffee shop on the corner.

The kind of workplace accountability we’re talking about goes deeper than that. It means showing up and trying your best to accomplish the things you need to do. It’s about taking personal responsibility for your work and trusting your teammates. It should be something practiced by everyone in an organization, from entry-level right up to the big boss.

A culture of accountability is found in high-performing teams, where it helps to create better working relationships and improve overall happiness and productivity at work.

It’s not always easy to achieve this, but hopefully our list of accountability quotes will inspire you and your teams to build a shared understanding of accountability at work.

What does accountability at work mean to you?

We’ll give you some excellent accountability quotes to inspire you and your team members, but first, let’s look at what accountability means in the broadest sense of the word, and then how it applies to people management. 

The Britannia dictionary defines accountability as being “required to explain actions or decisions to someone”, or “required to be responsible for something”.

That’s rather a vague definition when it comes to the workplace, though. It could simply mean that a team member was responsible one day for getting coffee for everyone, and then be required to explain why they went to Starbucks for it instead of the locally-owned coffee shop on the corner.

The kind of workplace accountability we’re talking about goes deeper than that. It means showing up and trying your best to accomplish the things you need to do. It’s about taking personal responsibility for your work and trusting your teammates. It should be something practiced by everyone in an organization, from entry-level right up to the big boss.

A culture of accountability is found in high-performing teams, where it helps to create better working relationships and improve overall happiness and productivity at work.

It’s not always easy to achieve this, but hopefully our list of accountability quotes will inspire you and your teams to build a shared understanding of accountability at work.

accountable definition

1. “The best kind of accountability on a team is peer-to-peer. Peer pressure is more efficient and effective than going to the leader, anonymously complaining, and having them stop what they are doing to intervene.” –  Patrick Lencioni, author of “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team”

One of the top accountability quotes from Patrick Lencioni shows that it’s not just leaders and management who can successfully hold people accountable. This kind of peer accountability can save leaders a great deal of time, as well as be effective among teams.

Team members should not be afraid to hold each other accountable, but trust needs to be built before that can happen. You may have to teach your employees that it’s OK to hold each other accountable and show them useful, healthy ways of doing so without causing resentment and hard feelings among team members.

Holding yourself and others accountable is a key ability for those in leadership roles. Teaching employees how to do this successfully at a team level can help develop future leadership skills.

 2. “Creating a culture of integrity and accountability not only improves effectiveness, but it also generates a respectful, enjoyable, and life-giving setting in which to work. “– Tom Hanson and Birgit Zacher Hanson, authors of “Who Will Do What by When?”

why accountability matters

This is one of those accountability quotes underlining how teams that have built a culture of accountability are generally more enthusiastic and respectful. Everyone knows what is expected from them and that taking responsibility is key. 

These employees are not only effective in their work, but also enjoy the transparency and clear expectations that come with a culture of accountability, which can lead to more employee happiness and less staff turnover.

To create such an environment, managers and leaders need to demonstrate their own accountability and encourage everyone else to follow suit.

3. “Great companies have high cultures of accountability, it comes with this culture of criticism I was talking about before, and I think our culture is strong on that.” – Steve Ballmer, former Microsoft chief executive officer

This is one of those really interesting accountability quotes that advises using criticism among teams. Although the words “culture of criticism” may make some shy away from following this advice, it’s worth remembering that not all criticism is negative. 

Constructive criticism is a valuable form of feedback when given correctly, and one that is important for creating accountability in the workplace. To be effective, this kind of feedback needs to be delivered in a constructive way, so you may need to help supervisors and managers learn to do this.

4. “Leaders inspire accountability through their ability to accept responsibility before they place blame.” – Courtney Lynch, author of “Spark: How to Lead Yourself and Others to Greater Success.”

We’ve all played the blame game before, and this is one of those accountability quotes that reminds us not to look for someone or something to blame before looking at and accepting responsibility for your own role in the problem.

Admitting that you have made a mistake is at the heart of accountability, and when a leader or manager does this it shows employees that everyone makes the wrong call sometimes and that failure can be a great chance to learn.

Above all, you’re fostering an atmosphere of openness, and inspiring your staff to hold themselves more accountable.

5. “Talent is part of the equation, but when you combine talent with accountability and authenticity, it is tough to beat.” ― David Ross

This is one of those accountability quotes that reminds us that talent alone isn’t enough for success. You can have a team of the most talented individuals around, but if they refuse to be held accountable it’s a losing battle.

When talent is combined with authenticity and a willingness to accept responsibility, it can win big, and inspire others to do the same.

6. “When people feel accountable and included, it is more fun.” – Alan Mulally, former president, and chief executive officer of the Ford Motor Company.

This accountability quote may strike you as rather unusual. After all, accountability is not usually thought of as a fun activity. 

However, Alan Mulally brings us the idea that being responsible can also be enjoyable, which makes sense when you think about it. That’s because employees who are accountable are invested in their work, and those who feel that way tend to be more satisfied in their job as they have a sense of ownership over the results.

Surveys show that only 36 percent of US employees are engaged in their work and workplace. That’s a shockingly low number, especially as it seems employees want to be engaged and involved in their work. 

7. “Open collaboration encourages greater accountability, which in turn fosters trust.” – Ron Garan, astronaut

Dodge our responsibilities quote

This accountability quote reminds us that collaboration and accountability go together, and this combination builds trust. 

Collaboration broadens knowledge sharing between team members and other departments, which can lead to innovative solutions to problems. 

Communication is the key to collaboration. In order for your employees to work together successfully, they may need to improve their communication skills. You can also use our Communication test to evaluate how well an individual communicates and listens in a professional setting.

Accountability quotes: Apply what you have learned

One of the key takeaways from these accountability quotes is that reinforcing positive accountability tends to increase happiness and employee engagement.

Don’t forget that accepting responsibility is the key for building trust within a team, and that trust is the glue that holds a team accountable to each other. Sign up for your free TestGorilla plan and start creating your first skills assessment today.

There are thousands of accountability quotes out there. Hopefully the ones we’ve chosen will resonate with you and help you create a culture of accountability in your workplace.

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