I was facilitating a team discussion several months ago, and the team agreed to enter into a written commitment for how they would work together.

One member of the team suggested that all team members commit to accountability. Immediately someone said, ā€œIā€™m not comfortable with that word. Instead, can we agree to be ‘responsible’?ā€

Question: How do you understand the differences between the two terms ā€“ accountable vs. responsible? Why does the word accountable make some people uncomfortable?

Let us hear from you.

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One Response to Accountability

  1. Brittany T says:

    Good question! I couldn’t help but respond. When I use the word accountable, it means that someone else can hold me to something I have promised to do or been charged to do. It allows that other person to point out my faults and helps to bring me to a better place (hopefully). When I allow someone to hold me accountable, I give them permission to “call me out.”

    Being responsible, on the other hand, can affect others but does not allow the same permission to “call out” that accountability offers. Being responsible is an individual act whereas being accountable is a team act.

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