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Honest, empathetic, and accountable.

Having a caring mindset involves more than being honest and empathetic. A caring mindset also means you hold yourself accountable. You accept responsibility for both your actions and inactions.

When you think about the acronym I use for having a caring mindset, “STAR”, accountability follows being straightforward and being thoughtful, but it’s just as important. Remember—you can’t have a caring mindset without being straightforward, being thoughtful, being accountable and having a resolve. Also remember there is no R. You need to practice all four.

When you take responsibility for your actions—both good and bad—you are being accountable. Being aware is the fastest step in being accountable, but it’s not enough.

You know when you refer to someone as having their head in the sand, that person is the opposite of being accountable because they don’t want to face reality. Or when someone says they should do something about that, they’re aware there is a need but they are not being a part of the solution.

Here is an example. The IT department of a financial service organisation made some tweaks to its intranet site. This site was used within the organisation to communicate with each other and keep track of the customers’ accounts. An employee called to report that he could not log in, and IT technicians helped that person to log in. This kept happening and each time it happened, it was resolved on an individual basis.

The problem was that no one thought to take things a step further. Instead, they acknowledged there was an issue and kept solving it individually, when clearly it was a system-wide problem that needed to be addressed.

Those help desk technicians may acknowledge the problem, but they did not do anything to create a permanent solution. I bet by the time the organisation acknowledged and fixed the problem permanently, they had spent millions of dollars in the overhead cost when it could have been resolved early on for a low cost.

That is the price we pay when we are not accountable. Awareness alone is not enough.

When was the last time you were aware of the problem? What did you do about it?

Subir Chowdhury

Subir Chowdhury

One of the world’s pre-eminent experts on quality and process improvements, Subir Chowdhury is the #1 international bestselling author on SIX SIGMA philosophy. Hailed by The New York Times as a “leading Quality expert,” and by Business Week as “the Quality Prophet”, he is the author of 15 books. His latest book THE DIFFERENCE: When Good Enough Isn’t Enough (Crown Business, 2017) made it to the USA Today Bestseller list as well as National Bestseller in India. In 2017, India’s prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur established the ‘Subir Chowdhury School of Quality and Reliability’ – the first of its kind in Asia. He is the Chairman and CEO of ASI Consulting Group and helped his clients save billions of dollars.

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