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Create a Business Culture of Personal Responsibility, Growth

Originally published
Originally published: 12/9/2021

Throughout a typical workday, we use the words “accountability” and “responsibility”  a lot, especially if a project’s results don’t measure up to expectations. I used to use these two words interchangeably. But do they mean different things? 

Accountable — required or expected to justify actions or decisions. Synonyms: liable, answerable.

Responsible — having an obligation to do something, being the primary cause of something. Synonyms: in charge of, culpable.

Both words are similar; that’s obvious. I believe there is a fundamental difference between the two, however, that can help your business. Many organizations struggle when projects don’t perform well or when you don’t meet deadlines. “Who’s accountable?” people ask. “Who’s to blame?” 

We blame individuals, clear our consciences, and the cycle repeats a few months later. 

While holding employees accountable is essential for any organization, I often don’t see the desired results from doing only that. To truly begin to effect change, it’s vital to investigate your workplace culture and begin to foster and embrace a personal level of responsibility. 

Your business needs to be a place where employees go beyond having to justify results — they need to embrace a personal responsibility stake in the organization’s health and long-term future. 

For several years in my career, I had the privilege of working for a midsize plumbing, electric, and heating and cooling company. I say it was a privilege because of the culture we (not just the owner) created — one where every employee owned the successes and failures of the business. For example, if the company didn’t hit budget, we’d all look for ways to get back on track and make sure it didn’t happen again. 

It’s important to note that I had no financial stake in the company’s success or failure, but I did have pride and personal goals that our culture fostered. 

Can you imagine the freedom this allows an owner? When everyone’s looking out for the team, that shares the responsibility. 

When you’ve created a workplace culture of personal responsibility and growth, you’ll start to see a complete shift in the momentum of your business. You’ll notice that tasks get done no matter who’s responsible, and teams and individuals begin to collaborate and work together without you having to tell them to do so. 

Responsibility and ownership of business results become personal commitments to one another to better the whole organization. 

You may be asking yourself, “How do I go about nurturing this level of personal responsibility from my employees?” 

Based on my experience of working with companies that foster high levels of personal responsibility among employees, I’ve come up with a few qualities that I’ve noticed they share:

  •  Owners/managers personally invest in the employees’ goals and work together to achieve results.
  •  They hold regular meetings focused on transparent reporting, with responsive feedback.
  •  Employees are cared for but not enabled.
  •  Management lives what they teach.
  •  The company encourages active communication, where everyone has a voice.
  •  The company analyzes both success and failure as a team.
  •  There’s a daily connection across departments. 
  •  Conflict or issues are engaged with quickly.
  •  Goals are made known to everyone.
  •  There are team rewards/incentives instead of just individual-focused rewards.
  •  The company works on building an environment of trust.
  •  The company makes decisions as a team.

Over time and with the right mindset, these qualities will begin to shift your business’s culture from one of poor performance and blame to one of personal responsibility and growth. 

But here’s the catch: Personal responsibility and growth must begin with you. Be honest and open with yourself on where you need to improve, then actively look for opportunities to help others in your business.  

The solutions to most of the issues in your business are right in front of you. In addition, your employees are capable and willing to go further with you than you may be able to imagine right now.   u

Brittany Spencer is a Business Coach with Nexstar Network, where she was a member for years before becoming an employee. She’s worked in the residential service industry as a financial controller and a general manager for the plumbing, electric, and HVAC trades. Contact Brittany at For additional information, visit

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