Accountability is a phrase I have been hearing a lot lately, even using myself even, as our leadership team strives to both communicate and raise standards at our school. Having read the Fierce Inc blog I’m questioning our / my approach. If not the approach, the way that term ‘accountable’ makes people feel and is being employed.
We talk about accountability in a legislative manner, we talk about holding people accountable, accountability is quickly feels imposed and we then associate accountability with blame rather than fulfilling our role and more than in many examples. It is the sort of thing that I expect Tom Bennett would have a field day with, if it was taken on from a learners point of view, he may still take it on (maybe he should). Accountability has that ‘misused’ feel about it.
Fierce suggests we change accountable for able, it may seem like a small change though its an important one. It’s like replacing the would ‘but’ with the word ‘and’ and your conversation (possibly leadership conversations) talks on a whole different tone. When you hold someone able, you recognise the capacity in them. It has a strong bias towards action; that is after all what we require isn’t, action? That a response is far more important that holding someone accountable for something they should have done? The impact of which is most likely to be at the expense of others, students even. You can come always revisit the reasons you had for the initial conversation when what needed to be done, has been done. (If I know me, it may also serve to broaden my view of the situation).
Neither example, and or able, is about being clever with words, nor being word clever, it is just about being aware of the way you speak to people counts. Something I am learning with a little more about with every conversation.
Accountability — When accountability is inconsistent in application, it becomes nothing more than thinly veiled blame-gaming.