3 Traits of Accountable People

Character Traits of Accountable People

QBQ! fans know that accountable folks don’t ask Incorrect Questions (IQs) such as:

“Why don’t I ever get a break?”

“When will they communicate better?”

“Who dropped the ball?”

QBQ! believers know that IQs like these lead to Victim Thinking, Procrastination, and Blame. They also know that asking The Question Behind the Question (QBQ) is the way to eliminate these traps. QBQs such as, “What can I do to solve the problem?” and “How can I contribute?” make the difference. This is all good.

But once a person takes QBQ! to heart and begins to practice personal accountability, there are a few outward signs—traits and characteristics—she or he will exhibit. Here are just three:

1.   Transparency

“What you see is what you get” is what you see and get from people who take ownership for their lives. Not sure why, maybe it’s the “I’m happy in my own skin” thing. A confident-from-the-inside-out person readily says, “Yep, my bad” and “Right, it was my mistake.” In fact, they’ll go there as easily as an inauthentic person—as my mentor used to see—will spend time “looking good rather than being good.”

People who choose not to blame others in an attempt to hide their imperfections, deep-down insecurities, and self-esteem deficits—who have little to no need to play the recrimination game—are more genuine. This is appealing and attractive.

2.   Humility

Karen and I write this in Parenting the QBQ Way:

Accountable parents model humility by using the magic words for developing and maintaining a healthy relationship: “I’m sorry.” Humility and contrition are foundational to effective parenting, and it’s simply vital that we bring them to our families. A little “I’m sorry, I was wrong. I don’t know everything!” goes a long way.

People who are committed to personal accountability keep a mirror handy. Pulling it out often, they ask the QBQ, “Well, what could I have done differently?” And if the thought response is, Hmm, several things! then it just isn’t difficult for them to utter those outstanding words, “I’m sorry.”

3.   Joyful

Consider this: People who avoid the traps of blame, finger-pointing, whining, complaining, procrastinating are just happier people. It may be a claim on my part, but it’s a claim based on research conducted since I entered the training business in 1986.

I mean, what’s joyful about a whiner?!?

“Joy” isn’t a word we use much, but it’s a great place to live. When we are filled with joy, there’s greater contentment with what we have, more peace within, and a lot less tension and stress. “She’s happy-go-lucky” and “He’s easy to be around” are descriptions of joyful people. Practicing personal accountability in all things is one way of getting there.

So there’s our short list. Discussion question:

What other traits and characteristics come with living a life of personal accountability?

Comment away!

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17 Responses

  1. I always tell our agents on day one of our development program, if they Show up – both mentally and physically, always Try their best, have a great Attitude and Respect the industry and those who work in it, they will have a much better chance at being a STAR.

  2. Self-awareness.

    It’s hard to be accountable if I am not aware of myself.

    One of the things I have seen demonstrated in all great leaders that I have worked with, for, or competed against is that they were self-aware. They listened 3x more than they spoke and were aware that they did not have all the answers.

    They knew when they got out of control, when they blamed others, and when they treated others poorly…and they took responsibility for them. Then they made up for their actions.

  3. Great qualities.
    In my books I define humility as ‘the ability AND the willingness to learn’. I think that attitude really helps create an open dialog and a reminder that we have much to learn, from our kids and colleagues.
    Those who possess and express humility are easier to work with and for, than those who don’t.

  4. Happiness is external, joy is internal. You can be happy you just got a new car and happiness fades away. Joy comes from deep down in the heart and it is an appreciation for life itself.

  5. Great points John. I think we can all use these ideas and put them to better use in our lives.

    I’d add that Accountable People also are willing to take the hit. When they know they’re wrong, they know and are willing to take on the responsibility of the decision.

    1. You’re absolutely right, Joseph. A true leader – one who’s accountable – owns his/her decisions. By the same token, they openly and freely recognize contributors.

      John, you know what a fan I am of QBQ and you personally. Keep up the great work!

  6. I think accountable folks have proper perspective. They are looking at the long-term picture (and maybe have an eternal perspective) instead of looking at the here and now. When you have a long-term view, what is there to gain by hiding things and being inauthentic? When you think about the ripples of consequences that stem from your decisions and actions, how can you not say “I’m sorry” to repair relationships? Finally, if you know what’s in store for you in your future beyond what you can see right now, everything else is just a bump in the road. Now, that’s joy!

  7. John – love love love this blog post! Great reminders for what all of us should strive to be. Thank you for sharing this. QBQ 4-EVER 🙂

  8. Genuine!

    People that practice personal accountability are an easy read because they are genuine with no hidden agendas. Refreshing to be around and leaders in everything they do.

  9. I work with middle school students and I have one student who has that joy! She is enthusiastic, creative and encourages others! She is going to get my QBQ award 🙂 Thanks for this post!

  10. I think accountable people are focused on today, not reflecting back on the past challenges or successes and not waiting on a future that is going to be better than today. They have a now presence about them.

  11. Thank you for the post. I am glad to have read it today as it was a great reminder. Over the last several days I have become a lot less joyful at work and I am sure that it surrounds personal accountability. I have a question regarding this; how do we take personal accountability for other people’s decisions?

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