You say Accountability, I say responsibility.
“You cannot abdicate your accountability. When leaders delegate responsibility to staff there is a mindset that they are abdicating their accountability”
Let’s look at the following story to illustrate the fine line
between accountability and responsibility.
Cellucom is a large telecommunication parastatal in West Africa, charged with the accountability of bringing mobile telecommunication and wireless internet service to the entire country by creating the infrastructure, educating the largely rural population, and making this cellular service affordable.
Zane Banda was headhunted by the Cellucom Board to manage the organization because of his entrepreneurial flair, and his political knowledge of the country formed through his long service in the liberation movement.
Martin Kara, the Chairman of the Cellucom Board is also a well-respected figure in West Africa. They both understand delegation of responsibility and the charge of the accountabilities they hold, and within a few years have demonstrated themselves to be the best run Board and Management Team on the continent.
Cellucom has grown to one of the top five most profitable mobile communications company in the world.
Martin Kara and his Board have the accountability to govern Cellucom to deliver, and they are responsible to the Department of Communication whose main accountability is to deliver the communication portfolio for the government and ultimately the people of West Africa.
Martin Kara and the Cellucom Board themselves cannot deliver on the Cellucom’s mission to bring mobile communication and wireless technology to the people of West Africa, and so they delegate this as a responsibility to Zane Banda.
Zane Banda holds accountability for the delivery of Cellucom sales and installation targets against the company’s mission statement and in turn delegates responsibility to the leadership team to deliver on this accountability.
The fact that Zane Banda has delegated the responsibility to deliver the sales and installation target to the functional teams does not abdicate him of his accountability to deliver the annual targets.
He is #accountable and measured by the board as to how well he is pulling the different pieces together.
In the hierarchy of accountability, the leadership team in turn delegates responsibilities for these tasks. They measure their effectiveness against its delivery.
Accountability is the result you have to achieve. Responsibility is the requirement to deliver the results.