Jeremy posted this question on our QBQ! Facebook page:
Is it possible to have too much personal accountability?
Sure, Jeremy—but then it’s not personal accountability. It’s crossing boundaries, being controlling, and taking charge when we have no right.
This topic has always been a challenge to convey to people—including myself.
Why? Because of this truth:
Any strength taken to an extreme becomes a weakness.
Once we start nodding our heads and thinking, Amen! Personal accountability is critical and I need to practice it more. I will get started right now!—we run the risk of going to the extreme.
So, here are seven signs that warn us we’re taking accountability too far:
- Lecturing others on how they need to be more accountable!
- Possessing an overwhelming sense of responsibility which leads to believing that everything is our fault.
- Trying to solve people’s problems—even when they don’t want help!
- Doing someone else’s work for them.
- Covering for, adopting, and enabling people around us.
- Habitually offering unsolicited advice.
- Informing others they aren’t asking The Question Behind the Question.
I must say, #7 always makes me chuckle. We’re so human that, if we’re not careful, we’ll read the QBQ! book or go through a QBQ! training session and decide that we are now The QBQ! Police. Before we know it, we’re running around telling others that they shouldn’t be asking victim-oriented, blame-centered, procrastination-inducing questions!
When we recently gave the QBQ! book a gentle rewrite, we added a chapter titled “Accountability and Boundaries.” I felt strongly that this topic needed to be addressed. Here’s a portion:
“When sales managers step in and close the sale, when project leaders carry the team’s ball, when parents clean the child’s room—it teaches nothing positive and adds no lasting value. Certainly, leaders ask QBQs like, ‘How can I help?’ and ‘What can I do to contribute?’ but they don’t do other people’s work for them. For most of us, defining boundaries—where my accountability ends and another’s begins—is a lifelong process. I suggest asking the QBQ, ‘How can I set good boundaries?’ Accountable people are committed first and foremost to excelling in their own job and performing their own work the best they can.”
Okay, let’s learn together by sharing our thoughts below. Questions for comment:
Share a time when you crossed important boundaries and took accountability to the extreme. What were the consequences? What did you learn from the experience?