Pandemic outbreaks, and Ponzi schemes have two things in common. They can adversely affect a lot of people really fast and they involve detailed accounting to get a clear understanding of their impact.

Of late, I have been in awe of the power of numbers, the multiplier effect, and the concept of “critical mass.” I find it difficult to get my thinking around “billions and trillions” so I leave that to the experts as they explain what is going on in our corporate, social and global economy. To feel more in control of what I can influence, I’ve got to bring it down to my personal level, my role in things and my personal accountability –which is where the ultimate power lies for each of us.

I for one, would love to see an explosion of accountability. I think it can happen if we are willing to step up and engage personal accountability – ownership for results, (good or bad) without fault, blame or guilt. The easiest place to cause an accountability outbreak is in organizations where “the top” has the most to gain from infecting employees with personal accountability by demonstrating it. Once it starts, it has the potential to pay out huge rewards.

 Imagine an organization that is filled with employees that live personal accountability. Imagine the riches that go with it –not just riches in dollars, but in relationships. When everyone is accountable for the quality of work and the work environment, relationships flourish. In an environment of trust, problems are escalated to where they belong and mistakes are considered experiences that carry insight and new learning. Without personal accountability, the organization suffers all the opposite conditions and becomes a breeding ground for unethical behavior. Like a chronically ill patient, the cost can be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The good news is how fast personal accountability can be instilled in a corporate culture It’s like a really potent flu strain, but it’s a flu strain you want. I know you can’t imagine walking up to someone who has the flu and saying “Hey, sneeze on me.” But you can imagine going into the office of a colleague and saying, “Your division is making money and saving the rest of us, how are you doing that?” What if he said “I’m washing my hands every time I handle a new piece of paper.” What?! Well a similar solution was implemented in hospitals and risk managers implored everyone to follow it to lower infection rates. There is a direct correlation between compliance to hand-washing and lower infection rates. So goes spreading personal accountability. Be known for these behaviors and you’ll be a good virus waiting to spread. (OK, it’s admittedly a little tougher than washing your hands but just as simple to understand.)

Go ahead, be this person and start a personal accountability pandemic. It is only a matter of time before you become a statistic, counted among those being a difference.

> Learn more about the NASBA Center for the Public Trust

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