Being accountable means being responsible for what you do, what you say, and how you act. For those in supervisory roles, it also means that you are responsible for your people.
For example, if you are a manager at a corporate office, to a certain extent, you are accountable for those that report to you. Of course, you are not able to control all aspects of their lives, but within your work environment, you are responsible. If a project was assigned to you and you delegated the task to a subordinate and they failed to deliver, then you must step up and be accountable. You shouldn't blame your subordinate. It is your fault that you weren't on top of it.
The same thing applies when you are a parent. You have control of your children (unless you don't, but that's another story). If you are shopping at your local supermarket and your kids are running around and they happen to break a jar of pickles, then you are accountable for that. You're not going to tell the store manager, it's their fault. You accept responsibility because you were not looking after them at the moment and they didn't have the discipline to behave themselves.
Accountability applies in a positive manner as well. If you are leading a team that is working on an important project. You are there with them to assist them and guide them to be successful. You take hits from senior management about some slight delays because you are the project leader and to protect your team. However, the project is an overall success. You are held accountable for that and are recognized for it.
In general, the more accountable you are, the larger the recognition (and oftentimes compensation) you receive. It's worth it.
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