Responsible Or Accountable: Does It Matter?

Although they are often used interchangeably, there is an important difference between responsibility and accountability.

Responsibility is something you are given or that you assume. For example, while your employment makes you responsible for getting your job done, parents assume responsibility for the care of their children.

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Accountability, however, is an attitude. People who hold themselves accountable go beyond their own responsibilities to ensure the overall success of the project, department, or the entire organization. Accountability is the opposite of, “It’s not my job.” It’s an attitude based on the understanding that all systems and efforts are interconnected and the success of any community of people with a shared goal depends upon working together for good of the whole.

Mel Kleiman, CSP, is an internationally-known authority on recruiting, selecting, and hiring hourly employees. He has been the president of Humetrics since 1976 and has over 30 years of practical experience, research, consulting and professional speaking work to his credit. Contact him at