Apricot on Accountability

chris-lawton-634518-unsplashIn your mind, think about your typical responses when you’re driving a rental car. You grab the keys and head out of the rental lot, and hit the road, whether for business or pleasure. A little sand on the floor from that stop at the beach? A tiny ding in the door from the car next to you in the parking lot? A little rough on an unfamiliar transmission? Eh, nothing major, and besides, the car is going back in a day or two.

And then there’s your own car.

Maybe you park in the far corner of lot to avoid scratches. Perhaps you are precise with routine maintenance checks. Do you wash your car and vacuum it regularly, so it looks it’s best? It’s your car, and you are responsible for how it runs, looks, and lasts.

There’s a difference between renting and owning.

And the same goes for your job. Do you ‘rent’ your job, or do you ‘own’ it?

Which type of behaviors resonate with how you treat your role and responsibilities at work? These behaviors reflect the mindset you hold toward personal accountability. When we ‘own’ our jobs, we understand that we are responsible to ourselves and others for the outcomes assigned to our position. We work towards solving problems and taken actions in order to achieve what is necessary to be successful. We accept that failing to meet goals and expectations not only lets ourselves down, but also our team – those counting on us to deliver so they can succeed in their goals as well.

Personal accountability precedes organizational accountability. “When people – particularly leaders – hold themselves accountable, it encourages others to do the same.” Says Stephen M. R. Covey in his book, The Speed of Trust. Accountability, in fact, is more often a leadership issue rather than a ‘worker’ issue. The majority of the time, employees aspire to do a good job and be successful in their roles. Leadership needs to recognize and match this mindset and use healthy relationships as the ultimate tool for influencing the performance of others. Instead of mandating compliance, teaching and modeling personal and corporate discipline is much more effective.

It must also be acknowledged that the lack of accountability, in leadership or elsewhere, has a distinctly negative effect of creating a culture of trust. When people are not held accountable, is lowers morale, devalues employees, and decreases productivity. Without trust, an organization cannot be healthy.

Trust is increased when clear expectations are established from the outset. Creating an environment where everyone understands what is needed, when it is due, and who is responsible for each element allows greater likelihood for success. Lack of clarity leads to uncertainty, disappointment, and poor results. Clarity is also increased when periodic evaluation points are established along the way. “Deadlines are when things are due. Timelines are when things get done.”

Building a culture based on accountability – personal and organizational – is the way to develop deeper relationships and a healthier team. It’s not only a question of what happens when someone fails, but more importantly, what happens when they succeed? Are wins celebrated as frequently as failures are questioned? Do peers feel safe enough to ask hard questions of each other? Do they trust each other enough to seek support from each other and know when to ask for help? Developing this level of interdependence and safety is the strongest way to ensure a culture of accountability that will last.

Here is a summary of steps to build your culture of accountability:

  • ‘Own’ your role
  • Hold yourself accountable first
  • Establish clear expectations
  • Set specific check-in points before the deadline
  • Celebrate the wins
  • Acknowledge the ‘misses’ and turn them into learning opportunities
  • Allow people to ask hard questions of you – in fact, demand it
  • Expect others to ask hard questions of each other

Apricot on Innovation


Innovation is a buzz word of contemporary industry. Everyone wants more of it, they’re not sure how to find it or create it, and how to do you budget for it? In a world of constant change, a continuously competitive marketplace, and an increasingly complex and costly environment, we need our organizations to be excelling into new spaces. So how do we do it?

Healthy innovation goes much deeper than simply a new product concept or process fix. It is more than relying upon a single idea or two to lead an organization into new markets or opportunities. Innovation comes from intentional choices from leadership to prioritize new and creative avenues. It comes from creating a culture of freedom that encourages openness and divergent thinking. It grows when managers don’t punish mistakes but instead view them as testing grounds to find the right solution.

Innovative cultures not only encourage this type of thinking, they reward it. Management and evaluation practices must align with the verbal promotion around creativity and innovation. The old adage is true, “what gets measured gets improved.” Without systems in place to ensure innovation is a top priority (for leaders and employees), it won’t happen.

The necessary precursor to innovation in any team or organization is psychological safety. Psychological safety includes trust, but goes well beyond that foundational principle. Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson defines it as a ‘‘shared belief held by members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking.’’ It reflects an environment where team members aren’t afraid to be embarrassed or rejected for sharing their thoughts or opinions. Mutual respect exists amongst each participant, and therefore creative, risky, or unusual ideas have the security to be offered.

Google did extensive research in this area and found two key elements present in teams that hold high psychological safety: they promote equality in the amount of time taken in conversation, and have team members that have high social sensitivity. So if we know these are the elements that build psychological safety, and we know psychological safety promotes a culture of innovation, what do we do about it?

There are some key questions you can be asking of your organization:

  • Is failure acceptable? Are we ok with uncertainty?
  • Do we value open communication, and encourage all voices to be heard?
  • Is empathy encouraged? Do we pay attention to the emotional responses of others?
  • How do we treat each other? What behaviors need to change to build respect and trust?

Some ideas to implement might include:

  • Aim for 70% success. If you expect 100%, people won’t take risks. Permission to not reach 100% encourages trying new ideas.
  • Create mechanisms for front-line workers to offer ideas (These are who Peter  Drucker called “knowledge workers”). They often have the best insight for the starting place for innovation
  • Build innovation into the strategy agenda for senior leadership. Without intentional focus, it struggles to receive the priority it requires
  • Don’t just give a new project to whoever has free time or could finish it most easily. Before you delegate, ask yourself, “Who would feel challenged by this project and has the capacity to rise to the challenge?”
  • Make vulnerability acceptable. This often requires you modeling it first. Vulnerability builds trust and opportunity to grow psychological safety.





Mietta Gibson joins Apricot Consulting as Principal Consultant

Apricot Consulting is pleased to announce the appointment of Mietta Gibson as Principal Consultant.

Mietta brings 15 years’ experience working as a senior HR professional, with a particular passion for creating a highly engaged performing workforce that enables strong business success.

Continue reading “Mietta Gibson joins Apricot Consulting as Principal Consultant”

Apricot Consulting launches Cambium Leadership Development

Cambium Leadership Development is designed for emerging and mid-level leaders focussing on growing leadership from the inside out. Following a three-level approach: Leading Self, Leading Others, Leading Beyond.

Cambium use a hybrid approach to embed learning through leadership theory, hands-on collaborative and practical exercises, real world application, world class leadership tools and external speakers.

Continue reading “Apricot Consulting launches Cambium Leadership Development”

Apricot Consulting appoints Danae Bentley as Principal Consultant

Apricot Consulting is pleased to announce the appointment of Danae Bentley as a Principal Consultant.

Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Danae enjoyed a decade long career with PwC, working in South Africa and New York, prior to joining Apricot.

Continue reading “Apricot Consulting appoints Danae Bentley as Principal Consultant”

Monash appoints International Alumni Manager for North America

From Student, to Global Professional: Monash University Appoints International Alumni Manager for North America.

For the first time, Monash University has appointed an International Alumni Manager for North America. Based in New York City, Mr John Crozier-Durham (L.L.B/B.A. 2011) will assist the University’s global strategy to engage overseas alumni.