Total Accountability = No Surprises and No Excuses

Vistage Speaker and personal friend Mike Scott ( ) speaks on what Total Accountability is and how to achieve it in your organization. All of the below italicized content is his, and is reproduced with permission.

What is total accountability? Mike defines it as “Doing what you said you would do, as you said you would do it, when you said you would do it – PERIOD!”

The coolest thing about Total Accountability is that when it becomes a part your personal and organizational culture, it totally eliminates surprises and excuses and increases productivity and efficiency. Here’s why: If something comes up that prevents delivering on commitments, the totally accountable person immediately informs the person they have made the commitment to of the problem, with a recommendation on how to proceed. The agreement that results becomes the new contract for accountability.

Therefore there are no surprises (other than the new situation, which is almost always beyond our control and has been immediately reported). Therefore there is no need for excuses. No internally-generated surprises! What a concept! Everyone delivering on their promises! No one over-promising and under-delivering!

Mike has a pocket guide for accountability that you can buy on his website at

Here’s the content:

Two key concepts:

  1. YOU must be the MODEL of accountability in your organization. The hypocrisy of the “leader” who does not live up to his/her commitments destroys any attempts to create a Totally Accountable culture. If you really are committed to being totally accountable, you MUST GIVE YOUR SUBORDINATES AND PEERS PERMISSION to tell you when you have not lived up to your commitments. If you don’t, they won’t have the courage to confront you when you must be confronted and held accountable. And you must be vulnerable enough, with the courage enough and humility enough to say, when they are right, “you are right, no excuses, I will do better.” NO EXCUSES for not telling them as soon as you knew you were going to fail to meet a deadline. Then you can expect the same standard from them.
  2. NEVER ASK WHY. If you do, you will get “the story” and excuses. Follow Mike’s guidelines above. If you ask them, “Can I count on you for that?” and they say yes, and then surprise you again, well that’s a different conversation! Do you have the right person on your bus?

These are great concepts to include into every aspect of your life. Imagine if every parent were Totally Accountable to their child (and the child was required to be accountable to the parent), and every spouse to their counterpart, and every friend to their friends. Would this world not be an easier world to be successful in? Wouldn’t our lives be easier to manage? Wouldn’t stresses be diminished and productivity improved? Think about it, and be Totally Accountable. It will change your life!

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