Taking Accountability: Why It Is Vital to Personal Growth

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Learning Strategies

Taking Accountability: Why It Is Vital to Personal Growth

As an individual, it is highly necessary to understand the importance of taking accountability for your actions. Understanding and doing so will help you in various aspects of life, such as in the workplace and your personal growth. It is a concept that will change how you interact with yourself, other and your environment.

In this article, we will discuss what taking accountability means and the importance for your personal growth. Also, we will discuss measuring personal accountability and explore the reasons why people may avoid taking responsibility.

Taking Accountability

Taking accountability for your actions is a crucial step that enables you to take control of your life, learn from your mistakes, and make necessary improvements. It involves accepting responsibility for one’s actions and their positive and negative consequences. Taking accountability can be also mean the extent to which an individual is answerable for their behavior, decisions, or judgments. This can be to others, like a supervisor, a group of peers, or oneself.

The Importance of Taking Accountability

Personal accountability is necessary for various aspects of life, including the workplace and personal growth. It involves setting common expectations, building trust, increasing productivity and innovation, ensuring compliance, and being responsible for one’s choices and actions. 

Taking accountability also promotes healthier interactions, improves follow-through, and encourages creativity and innovation. It also contributes to better compliance in today’s ever-changing laws, regulations, standards, and guidelines landscape.

Personal accountability also includes self-accountability and accountability to others, which involve being responsible for one’s choices and actions, taking ownership, and being willing to explain one’s conduct to others. By practicing personal accountability, individuals can positively impact themselves, their teams, and their organizations.

Steps To Taking Personal Accountability

Consider the following steps:

#1. Understand and Acknowledge Your Role

The first step to taking accountability is recognizing that you are responsible for your actions and also anything within your control boundaries. You have to acknowledge when you have done something wrong and understand why someone may expect an apology from you. Also, celebrate your achievements and take credit for your hard work.

#2. Learn to Accept Responsibility

Another step to taking accountability for your actions is to learn not to place blame on other people or on external factors. You have the ability to develop yourself as a result of taking accountability since it teaches you to take ownership of your actions and the repercussions of those acts.

#3. Be Respectful and Apologize When Necessary

Respect is a crucial aspect of taking accountability. When you acknowledge that you were wrong, do it in a respectful manner, and treat people with respect when discussing the behaviors of others. If you are aware that you have done something wrong, apologize and take responsibility for your actions. This is an important step in acknowledging that the results of your actions depend on you.

#4. Celebrate Your Successes

You are also taking accountability when you do something remarkable, and you acknowledge your efforts and accept credit for the results of those efforts. This is about treating yourself with the dignity and respect that you deserve.

#5. Be Proactive

You are also taking accountability when you take the initiative to work toward the things you want in life. Instead of making excuses or claiming that you are powerless to change your circumstances, focus on achieving the goals you have set for yourself.

#6. Live in Integrity

Make sure that your thoughts, words, and actions are all in line with one another and consistent with one another. Take responsibility for your behavior and the outcomes that emerge from the decisions you make in life.

How to Measure Personal Accountability in Life

To measure personal accountability, you can apply some of the principles and techniques used to measure employee accountability:

  • Set clear expectations and goals: Establish clear expectations and goals for yourself to ensure you understand what you intend to achieve. This will bring clarity and help you take ownership of your work and be accountable for your actions.
  • Use self-assessment tools: Self-assessment tools can help you evaluate your level of personal accountability. These tools often include questionnaires or assessments that measure various aspects of personal accountability, such as taking responsibility for outcomes, meeting deadlines, and following through on commitments.
  • Seek feedback from others: Feedback from family, supervisors, or mentors can provide valuable insights into your level of personal accountability. This feedback can be collected through performance evaluations, 360-degree feedback, or informal conversations. It can help identify areas for improvement and provide guidance on enhancing personal accountability.
  • Monitor progress and track outcomes: Regularly monitor progress towards goals and track outcomes to assess personal accountability. This can involve reviewing performance metrics, evaluating the completion of tasks and projects, and assessing the overall impact of an individual’s actions and decisions.
  • Continuously improve: Personal accountability is not a one-time measurement but an ongoing process. Encourage individuals to reflect on their accountability, identify areas for improvement, and take proactive steps to enhance their personal accountability.

Why Do People Avoid Taking Accountability

People avoid taking accountability for various reasons attributed to psychological and behavioral factors. 

  • Cognitive dissonance: This refers to the discomfort or inner incongruence that individuals feel when they try to reconcile conflicting thoughts about themselves. To protect their self-worth, people may create fictions or justifications that absolve them of taking accountability, even when confronted with evidence of their mistakes or wrongdoings. 
  • Tactical tricks: There are various tactics used to avoid taking accountability, which can serve to minimize cognitive dissonance, protect oneself, or misrepresent the facts. Some common tactics include delegating the matter to someone else, avoiding or obfuscating the issues, focusing on minor things, appealing to integrity without demonstrating it, and mentioning others’ alleged problems or questioning their motives and credibility. These tactics aim to shift blame or avoid taking responsibility.
  • Fear of failure and punishment: One reason people avoid taking accountability is the fear of failure and the potential negative consequences or punishment associated with it. When there is a cultural environment that punishes mistakes or when being responsible is seen as too risky, individuals may be more inclined to avoid the stick (punishment) rather than move toward the carrot (rewards).
  • Convenience and denial: Avoiding accountability can make life more convenient in the short term. People may blame external factors such as their upbringing or disadvantages to avoid confronting their mistakes. Denial and pointing fingers at others, such as parents or education, can provide a temporary escape from accountability. Additionally, individuals may prefer to avoid being reminded of their wrongdoings or admit their flaws to others, which can contribute to why they avoid taking accountability.
  • Bystander effect: The bystander effect is a psychological phenomenon where individuals are less likely to take responsibility in a larger group. They rely on others to take the initiative and may assume that someone else will address the issue or take accountability. This diffusion of responsibility can prevent individuals from owning their mistakes and hinder personal growth and improvement. 

Accountability vs Responsibility

Accountability and responsibility are related concepts, but they have distinct differences. 

Definition: Responsibility refers to the obligation to perform a task or comply with a rule. It is responding to life situations and events and completing assigned tasks. Responsibility is often associated with blame, fault, or guilt. It is a personal, mature, and conscious choice. On the other hand, accountability is recognizing and acknowledging our responsibilities. It is being answerable for the outcomes of our actions, decisions, and mistakes. Accountability implies accepting the consequences of one’s actions and being liable to face the consequences from some authority if tasks are not completed successfully.

Imposition vs. acceptance: Responsibility is imposed, meaning it is assigned or delegated to someone. Accountability is accepted, meaning it is a personal choice to take ownership of the outcomes and consequences of one’s actions.

Delegation: Responsibility can be partially delegated, meaning it can be shared or divided among team members. Accountability cannot be delegated. It belongs to an individual and cannot be shared.

Focus: Responsibility is task or project-focused. It defines the duties and obligations of individuals to complete specific tasks. Accountability is results-focused. It emphasizes taking ownership of the outcomes and results of tasks or projects.

What Is the Core Value of Accountability?

Accountability is a crucial value in a person’s life, as it involves honoring commitments, completing tasks on time and with quality, and taking responsibility for actions and outcomes. It involves delivering work on time and with the highest quality, understanding that others, including family, friends, and the workplace, depend on you to fulfill their responsibilities. Taking accountability involves clear ownership of initiatives, resource allocation, performance feedback, communication, and measuring results using qualitative and quantitative data.

11 Taking Accountability Quotes

  • Accountability breeds response-ability. ~ Stephen R. Covey
  • “When it comes to privacy and accountability, people always demand the former for themselves and the latter for everyone else.” ~ David Brin
  •   “Accountability is the measure of a leader’s height.” ~ Jeffrey Benjamin
  • “Ninety-nine percent of all failures come from people who have a habit of making excuses.” ~ George Washington Carver
  •  “Wisdom stems from personal accountability. We all make mistakes, own them… learn from them. Don’t throw away the lesson by blaming others.” ~ Steve Maraboli
  • “Accountability separates the wishers in life from the action-takers that care enough about their future to account for their daily actions.” ~ John Di Lemme
  • “Where there is no accountability, there will also be no responsibility.” ~ Sunday Adelaja
  •  “You steadily grow into becoming your best as you choose to be accountable and accept responsibility for improvement.” ~ Steve Shallenberge
  • “For most people, blaming others is a subconscious mechanism for avoiding accountability. In reality, the only thing in your way is YOU.” ~ Steve Maraboli
  • “It is wrong and immoral to seek to escape the consequences of one’s acts.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
  • “A body of men holding themselves accountable to nobody ought not to be trusted by anybody.” ~ Thomas Paine


In conclusion, taking accountability is essential for personal growth and success in various aspects of life, including the workplace. It involves understanding and acknowledging one’s role, accepting responsibility for one’s actions, respecting and apologizing when necessary, celebrating successes, being proactive, and living with integrity. Personal accountability can be measured by setting clear expectations and goals, using self-assessment tools, seeking feedback from others, monitoring progress and outcomes, and continuously improving.

Related Article: Be Intentional: Why You Should Practice Intentional Living


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