What is the difference between accountability and blame in leadership?

What is the difference between blame and accountability in leadership?

Often these two things are either used interchangeably or confused altogether. We know that we are all responsible for what we do, and that we can trace results or lack of them to what we do when we work together.

But people react differently depending on how a leader describes and handles behavior and performance, and your team or business reflects that in productivity, profitability and employee engagement.

Mike, Shaun and David discuss three different perspectives on the difference between blame and accountability and how a leader can differentiate between the two with his or her team.


Mike: Both are similar on paper, but how they are delivered and the motive behind them is what makes the difference – is it moving you to successful outcomes or away from them?

Shaun: Solution based cultures look at the problem and not the person.

David: Blame is expensive, and accountability is profitable.


MM: “You can only hold someone accountable to a standard that they are aware of.”

MM: “The whole aim of accountability is to keep people and processes in line to achieve a certain outcome.”

SP: “A lot of times blame is emotional and reactive. It’s a coping mechanism for insecurity.”

SP: “It’s easier to blame because it’s an easier conversation. It’s emotional and downhill.”

DF: “Imagine that the default is when you or someone else makes a mistake, everyone gets together and says, let’s put our heads together and figure this out.”

DF: “If you’re in a leadership position, really examine the language that you use, that you allow, and that you discourage, because that affects how your team operates.”

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