confused businesswoman pointing in two different directions | Accountability Chart and org chartWhen I introduce leadership teams to EOS, they often ask me, “What’s the difference between an Accountability Chart™ and an organizational chart?” It’s a good question, because at first glance the two concepts appear the same. But there’s a critical difference, and it’s important that your leadership team understands what makes the Accountability Chart so valuable to your company.

A typical organizational chart represents an organization’s structure. It’s designed to highlight the relationships and hierarchies of each job position within the organization. By looking at the org chart, you can see at a glance how the organization is designed, how many levels it has and where each employee fits into the company.

Business executives use the org chart for presentations, to justify adding or reducing headcount, and to determine how an employee might shift job roles. For the new hire, the org chart can be a lifeline that helps them to learn names and titles and to better understand where they fit into the overall corporate structure.

An Accountability Chart, on the other hand, is owned by the leadership team, not HR. Other differences include the idea that there are no position titles or politics, it’s designed as an internal document to provide clarity.

The Accountability Chart defines each seat’s simplified view of expected outcomes and how each tie to the success of the organization. It’s a tool that ensures that every person knows exactly who to address an issue with based on accountability not based on who reports to whom.

How to Create an Accountability Chart

Any outcome that has more than one owner has no accountability. The Accountability Chart clarifies which seat is accountable to achieve every major role and responsibility in the company. It only includes the most critical outcomes that are required for your company to be great—starting at the leadership level. There are no names in the Accountability Chart, because accountability is based on the seat (or job role), not on the employee. For example, if Bob leaves the company or changes seats, his accountabilities stay with the seat, not with him.

Each seat’s accountability is described in three to seven roles and responsibilities that are needed to achieve the outcomes for success. It’s not a laundry list or a description of all the of tasks that need to be done. It’s not a job description in the traditional sense. For example, the Sales seat might include the following responsibilities:

  • Budget oversight
  • Sales & marketing Strategy
  • Achieve sales/revenue goals
  • Lead the selling effort

If you’re the owner of the Sales seat at the Leadership Team level, you’re accountable for all sales revenue for the organization. If there’s a problem in sales, the entire organization looks to you to fix it. This doesn’t mean that you won’t work with a team or rely on other people. It simply means that it’s up to you to garner the resources to lead, manage and hold others accountable to achieve the right outcomes for the organization to be successful.

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