Metacognition Can Raise Levels of Accountability

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Accountability is a hot topic of discussion in most organizations.

I’m sure your leaders work diligently toward promoting accountability, but my clients tell me that personal accountability is still not totally hardwired in their organizational cultures. When we want leaders and employees to act and communicate in accountable ways, we may need to first encourage them to think in accountable ways. One way to do so is to encourage everyone to think about their thinking — which is called metacognition.

According to the New York Times best-selling author, Shawn Achor, 90 percent of long-term happiness is predicted not by the external world, but by the way your brain processes the world.

How do we learn to think in accountable ways? It can be easy to spend our entire lives accepting our natural default ways of thinking rather than choosing to look at life differently. When faced with a challenging situation, our internal voice is activated, and we play a conversation over and over in our mind. We remember certain parts of the conversation perhaps favorably or maybe negatively. We see images, we predict outcomes, or we visualize how future actions will drive outcomes.

The shortcuts we use when thinking about solving an issue, taking a risk, or recommending ideas are driven by the need to satisfy our human needs. We want to fit in or stand out, avoid losses, create certainty, introduce variety, make a contribution, be accepted, or learn something new. Consider what the author of QBQ (The Question Behind the Question) posits: When reflecting on a situation, we ask questions starting with “why,” which can lead to victim-thinking. Asking “when” questions can lead us to delay action or procrastinate, and “who” questions tend to place blame.

We all have control of our inner voice and can decide how we see the world and take accountability for our part in any situation, such as following these 4 tips.

  1. Watch your biased thinking. Our brains fall victim to a wide range of biases that cause our predictions of the future (and our memories of the past) to be inaccurate. For example, the attribution bias makes us more likely to attribute blame to others rather than situational factors or ourselves.
  2. Ask yourself accountability questions. &lquo;What&rquo; or &lquo;how&rquo; questions enable us to think about improvements.
  3. Think about what action to take. What can you do to move towards a solution?
  4. Use &lquo;I&rquo; statements vs. &lquo;they/them&rquo; statements. This too can ensure a focus on your role in the situation vs. blaming others.

Learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what we think. This then can lead to managers and employees alike behaving and communicating in ways that are fully accountable.

When you deliver Accountability Workshops to your managers and employees, you will actually see a difference in how your teams communicate and collaborate. Your organization will be able to count how everyone accounts for their actions.

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Helanie Scott
Helanie Scott
Helanie (pronounced yeh-LAH-nee) Scott, CEO and founder of Align4Profit in Dallas, Texas, has driven stunning leadership and cultural transformations for an impressive list of organizations. She has mastered the ability to connect with her audiences in the boardroom, classroom, on stage, or in one-on-one coaching sessions. Helanie’s Align4Profit clients rave at the way her engaging programs freshen outdated mindsets and deliver results-oriented, aligned action.