Personal Accountability and Corporate Accountability Create Business Success

What do Apple, Inc., Nordstrom and Whole Foods all have in common?  All three companies are accountable for their actions, choices and results.  Accountability for these three organizations is a cornerstone of their operations.  They realize that you must be accountable first and then business will follow.

Apple, Inc. recently rolled out their new 3G iPhone and their MobileMe website.  Customers immediately reported problems with the web service.  While Apple moved quickly to solve the problems, they also stepped up and gave everyone an additional 30 days service for free.  And if that wasn’t enough to show how accountable they are, when the problems persisted they threw in an additional 60 days free service.  Only 2% of Apple’s customers were affected but Apple moved quickly to show that they are accountable for their products and accountable to their clients.  Maybe this display of accountability is one of the reasons that Apple, Inc. has the highest consumer satisfaction rating of all time in their industry.

Nordstom has a long history of accountability to their customers.  From the legendary story of a Nordstrom representative taking back a set of tires from a disgruntled customer (Nordstrom doesn’t even sell tires) to their policy of having associates come out from behind the counter to hand you your purchase, make eye contact and thank you by name, Nordstrom continues to live a philosophy of accountability and of service.

Whole Foods takes a totally different approach to being accountable, and their accountability touches our lives in many ways.  Whole Foods continuously shows that they are accountable to the world in which we live.  They no longer use plastic bags which piled high in our landfills, and they buy a significant amount of power from wind mill farms.  And, that doesn’t even count the organic criterion they adhere to with their food, ensuring more purely natural products.

Each of these three companies has recognized the value of accountability and taken conscious steps in order to attain it.

There are four phases to accountability:
The accountability we hold ourselves to.
The accountability we hold ourselves to others.
The accountability we hold others to ourselves.
The accountability we help others hold to themselves.

As these companies have demonstrated, by being accountable in our lives and our businesses we build the foundation for success and achievement.  Whether you are trying to be a great leader or a great team member, accountability is the key.  People look up to others who live by example and show they are accountable for their actions, choices and results.  These are the people and organizations that make great things happen.

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2 Comments

  • Sam Silverstein

    Good point, but accountability is a top down lead by example quality that all people in an organization will want to emulate. New team members will see what is happening and follow along in the positive action or self-select themselves out of that environment. If this were not the case then you wouldn't have organizations like Apple and Nordstrom who have such a well documented tradition. Great organizations don't just happen. Just as habitually weak organizations don't just create themselves. True leaders know what they want their company to look like and then work like crazy to lead by example so others will follow.

  • Edward Simpson

    The challenge that many of these (and other) large organizations face with regards to accountability is that it is often such a personal quality. Because of that it is difficult to instill it in a large number of employees who may be new to the organization or even temporary employees.