You are here

Leadership in sport and development: A for accountable

Copyrights: Max Pixel

Leadership in sport and development: A for accountable

This article is the first in the “A-B-C-D qualities of a sport and development leader” series by ambassador Dr. Liz Odera.

Someone who is accountable is completely responsible for what they do and must be able to give a satisfactory reason for it” – the Cambridge Dictionary.

Accountability is often seen as a “blame game”, rather than what it really should be: an active form of leverage, which enhances learning and performance. You must have often come across the question “Who was responsible?” when things go wrong. We often use the two words “accountable” and “responsible” like they mean the same thing, yet that is not correct at all. Being accountable is more about the presence of trust and absence of fear. It’s about accepting results, whether positive or negative, and learning.

When things go wrong, acknowledge that mistakes were made and pledge to improve the outcome. This is very powerful: it means that you have taken ownership of the process, and you will engage your co-workers in playing their part, in making positive change. Remind them of the common vision that you all share and inspire them to take part. Then make sure that you actively seek feedback and involvement in solving problems.

Take responsibility for good results. In this case, you need to be able to learn how they came about, and share this with your team, so that you can get positive reinforcement. Crediting other members of staff that ideas and actions came from should not make you feel threatened. In fact, it is the trait of a true leader. Take for example Otieno’s story:

Otieno wanted to ensure that more community members attended the monthly meetings and approached his co-workers to help him tackle the issue. Staff gladly gave their input and after a long discussion, they discovered that the meeting tended to run on the same day as the national league football match for Gor Mahia, a favourite team, so everyone preferred to follow the match on their radios. Otieno went ahead and changed the meeting dates and attendance improved. 

At a review meeting he was praised for improving attendance and his co- workers felt very crushed when he failed to mention that it was a team effort. By acknowledging the team’s input, Otieno would have reinforced his team’s trust, acting as an accountable leader.

Here are three simple steps to becoming an accountable leader:

1. Assess yourself and your ability to be accountable

Are you keeping to your own basic rules, by arriving to work on time and submitting reports as required, for example? Draw up a list and ask your co-workers what they think.

Do you insist that those working under you and your co-management are held accountable to their promises that they made to you and the organisation? This may be a simple action like updating field research records to the database, or attending meetings on time with prepared reports.

2. Set up a plan for making sure that all promises are kept

You can put up a board in a shared space that provides staff and other stakeholders with an opportunity to see the goals and tasks, how much has been achieved, and who has made this possible. Set realistic timelines for your team.

3. Change your dialogue

Instead of just asking, “Why did you not….”, how about saying, “How could you improve on…”? This encourages the individual to realise that no one else will take on his/her work.

Twitter: @lizodera1



Article type



Wednesday, July 19, 2017 - 12:46