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The Difference Between Responsibility and Accountability

Both responsibility and accountability play a critical role in management

Responsibility and accountability are often used interchangeably, but they actually have different meanings.

Responsibility means to take charge of something and work toward completing established goals or tasks. Maybe it's your health (to take your medications regularly), a work project (to curate a list of potential customers) or the PTA fundraiser (to coordinate a team of volunteers).

Accountability means to accept liability for those tasks, goals or projects, even those only overseen and not personally completed by you, and be prepared to explain the outcome. Good, bad or otherwise.

The differences are certainly subtle, so let's dive a little deeper.