Leading Self: Accountability & Responsibility

Understanding aspects of leading one’s self and leading others is critical to the practice of leadership. The SEAS Leadership Development model includes 7 Leading Self Leadership Competencies and 6 Leadership Competencies associated with Leading Others.

“Accountability and Responsibility” is the first Leading Self Competency. Responsibility is defined as the need for an individual to deliver on an assigned task. Accountability is the aggregate of multiple responsibilities associated with a directed activity. In the research lab environment, the Principal Investigator is accountable for all activities in the lab, with individual assigned responsibilities with each unique activity. For example, the unique activities can include lab safety, equipment maintenance, and on-boarding new lab members. Team members are responsible for specific operations in the lab while the PI is accountable for all tasks.

Fundamental to this topic is the fact that leaders can delegate responsibility they cannot delegate accountability. Accountability is established in advance to provide the unit with a sense of direction. Leaders must act to implement accountability and responsibility within work groups. Clarity of tasks, goals and objectives, combined with providing team members with the authority to act and freedom to make decisions are essential to effective team work. Along this line, team members need to be supported in their work with monitoring and feedback used to make incremental changes and to recognize developing success. Supporting team members includes providing training to accomplish tasks as well the resources to conduct the work. Establishing strong communications is also important to facilitate clarity, share information and recognize team workers for their performance.

These concepts and two case studies are presented in this seminar, with the seminar slide deck and a reference included below.


Presentation Slides


Additional Reference

  • Leadership is Everybody’s Business - Laurel Goulet, Jonathan Jefferson, and Paul Szwed – An overview of the Learn, Experience, Reflect & Mentorship Leadership Developmental model