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Three Reasons Not to Share

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I can hear my mother groaning, “Great! My daughter is out there encouraging people not to share.”

At the risk of disappointing Mom, I’ll plow ahead because these three reasons not to share can actually make you more effective at work. This information is not for the uncertain and unfocused. This is for the committed and intentional. The three reasons not to share have to do with personal accountability.

1) If you begin anything with a group of people who say, “We share responsibility for this” or “We have mutual responsibility,” you are heading down a road of low accountability if things don’t work out.

To be an effective, high performance “team,” each member of the group must be willing to say, “I fully own my role (individual accountability) and I am accountable for the results we produce together (collective accountability).”

This is best illustrated when it is time to own results gone wrong. You will not see anyone on the team finger point or blame. The team will pull together, take full ownership to improve the situation, hold each other accountable, and identify specific next steps to move forward. Individual accountability is what makes collective accountability a reality on teams and it is a lot more powerful and effective than “sharing.”

2) “Sharing the workload” can lead to unclear roles and unclear agreements.

To be an effective team member, you must be able to declare: “I am responsible and accountable for being clear about what is expected of me. If obstacles and conflicting priorities arise, I am still accountable. I will not share my ineffectiveness with you because I am not clear. I will own my lack of clarity and ask clarifying questions or for needed support.”

Accountability is synonymous with clear communication. Ever wonder why “must be an excellent communicator” is in most employment ads? Accountability goes hand-in-hand with being a clear and effective communicator.

3) “Sharing” becomes rather humorous when something a group or team is doing isn’t working or isn’t getting the expected results. “We share accountability for this,” someone will offer while others are thinking, “Yeah? Well, my ‘share’ was the part that worked! The rest of you can share the part that didn’t work.”

To be effective in these instances, stop sharing and start owning. “This is what I did, this is what I learned, here’s what I will do differently in the future, here is how I am accountable.” Imagine the shock on the faces of those marching down the hallway to get answers from your group when they run into accountability instead of finger pointing and blame. They can march right back to their offices knowing things are well in hand. This can create a breakthrough in a business culture.

Sharing accountability for what works and what doesn’t work is not nearly as effective as being personally accountable for what isn’t working. The power of personal accountability increases the performance potential of a team because it locks two things in place: (1) no finger pointing and blame, and (2) an agreement that we will own our results individually and collectively, and if it is not working, we commit to facilitating ourselves to ownership rather than blaming. When individual accountability exists, collective accountability results.

A shift in mindset is necessary to stop using the “shared” model. It may feel counterintuitive or like you are only changing the language from “sharing” to “individual/collective accountability,” but I guarantee you they are worlds apart.

Maybe it’s time to discover your accountability quotient and whether you have the right stuff for a work life of personal accountability.

Learn more about Linda Galindo, President of Versera Consulting at KnowledgeCrush.com

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