Levels of Accountability

Accountability is a distinguishing feature of progressing into leadership roles. As a general rule, moving “up” means more accountability. Being a high performing contributor means being accountable for yourself. Being a leader means being accountable for others. Being an executive means being accountable for what you can not control (e.g. the market). There are many counter examples where leaders are not held accountable or getting promoted doesn’t increase the level of accountability, but acting as a principal is still the best strategy.

The opposite of this (and something to screen for when working with others) is learned helplessness—there is a belief in one’s agency needed to take accountability. That’s why founders, who are accountable for things outside of their control, seem to require a controlled self-deception or they wouldn’t start anything. That’s why default optimism is rational.