So, what exactly do you mean by “accountability?”

Take a look at any organizations list of values or guiding principles, and odds are you’ll see “accountability” featured prominently… and for good reason. But what do we really mean by accountability? And how can we effectively track, measure and reward accountability?

In leadership roles, accountability is sometimes described as the acknowledgment and assumption of responsibility for actions, products, decisions, and policies. Or, as one colleague describes it…. “making sure the person next to me does their job, and expecting them make sure I do mine.”

I subscribe to Patrick Lencioni’s definition, in Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of Teams: “The willingness of team members to remind one another when they are not living up to the performance standards of the group.”

However you view accountability, and its importance in your organization, the truth is that in today complex organizations, accountability is extremely difficult assess. Harvard Business Review’s Ron Ashkenas explains why, and offers a few strategies.