5 Barriers To Accountability

We all need accountability in our lives. No person is above the obligation of responsibility and no one should be exempt from giving an account for decision-making and behavior. If done right, accountability can be greatly beneficial to growth and development in life, relationships and business.

The Scriptures teach that it is “a good and pleasant thing for people to live together in harmony” and that we should strive to agree with one another so that division is minimized and we are united in thought. Accountability is a tremendous vehicle to achieve these ends.

Of course, not everyone shares a high view of accountability. In my line of work, I do a lot of mediation, counseling and brokering of relationships and I’ve seen the damage and sometimes irreparable harm that can occur when individuals are unteachable and refuse to accept responsibility.

Here are the 5 barriers to true accountability that we most often encounter and struggle with:

1. Narcissism
Narcissism is defined as a singular pursuit of fulfillment from vanity or egotistic admiration of oneself. True accountability requires a humble, honest look internally and is often prompted by reflection of a weak point or something that needs improvement. The two, by definition, stand in direct opposition to one another.

A narcissistic person views accountability as an attack on their flawless image. To suggest corrective action to a narcissist is to imply that the core of their being and some expression of it is not impeccable. That notion simply cannot be received and certainly not acted upon.

Narcissism also seeks to redefine and vilify accountability. Some of the labels often used by a narcissist when referring to accountability are: criticism, micro-management, maltreatment, abuse and singling out.

2. Denial
Like narcissism, denial presents a great threat to the positive outcomes of accountability. This can be discerned immediately in conversation or reflection. The person is verbally and non-verbally unenthusiastic and disinclined to recognize even the possibility that they might be culpable or play a part in the issue at hand.

Denial then morphs into blame shifting, aversion to open discussion and often results in phrases like, “I don’t know” or “Ask them” when their view is sought on how the problem should be rectified.

3. Resistance
Resistance is one of the most prevalent barriers. Both parties seem to recognize a problem and the need for resolution but there is always one person more resistant to the truth that can lead to solving it.

Unlike a denier, a resister is not unwilling to listen or engage in accountability. In fact, this person may ask for it in their own sense of the word. However, once responsibility is asked for, it is met with great opposition that often lead to impasses and relational gridlocks.

4. Obligatory Acquiescence
There is an old saying that goes something like this: “If you convince a person against their will, they are of the same opinion still.” Accountability is ineffective for someone who simply feels obligated to comply with a situation but remains unconvinced that they have anything to do with it.

This person’s acquiescence is probably due to a present consequence or some overwhelming evidence of the problem and not because they arrived at it by their own volition. In these cases, a short or long-term change is doubtful because they are of the same opinion as when they arrived.

5. Non-Transparency
Non-Transparency is used to alleviate embarrassment and preserve a certain image that one or both parties are trying to maintain. If details of a situation are held back to excuse answerability or lessen the degree of consequence, the real issues will stay hidden and unresolved.

Honesty is at the heart of successful accountability. A transparent approach brings belief and trust to the words that are spoken, to the commitments and to the acceptance of responsibility.



© 2015 Jason Autry.  Originally posted at jasonautry.com