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Leading An Accounting Firm by Troy Waugh

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8Accountability: Trust but Verify

This chapter was coauthored with Bryan Shelton, senior consultant at The Rainmaker Consulting Group.

“Great companies have high cultures of accountability….”

~ STEVE BALLMER, MICROSOFT

One definition of accountability is an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions. Accountants, of all people, should be able to account for their commitments and behavior. One of the worst things that a leader can do is avoid responsibility for his or her own mistakes. In fact, great leaders take responsibility for their subordinates’ mistakes. The great Alabama football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant would say, “If it was successful, the team did it. If it failed, it was my fault.” That’s a way to build serious loyalty in your staff or team.

As Bill Hermann, former managing partner of Plante & Moran, PLLC, says, “I think a wonderful trait in a leader is to not worry about grabbing the credit. Give the credit out liberally. If something goes wrong, take the blame.”

In this chapter, we’ll discuss why accountability is so important in business, what accountability is and isn’t, and how to move from a low- to high-accountability environment. At the end of the chapter, you will be introduced to some tools that will enable you to implement an accountability culture into your firm with a minimum of pushback from your team members and partners.

In some accounting firms, it is mainly the partners who resist accountability. Some partners’ ...

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