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How accountable are you?

Accountability vs Transparency

By Darren Finkelstein
By Darren Finkelstein

The Accountability Guy®

Home » Transparency » Accountability vs Transparency
Are transparency and accountability the same or different
Table of Contents

Doing what you committed to do, and welcoming clarity of conduct!

Accounting simply means doing what you say you’re going to do and getting your team to do the same. It’s about following through with your commitments.

Transparency refers to doing things in an open way so anyone can see what you’re doing. It keeps both the employees and the management honest and in the event something goes wrong, transparency enables you to hold responsible people accountable.

Lack of transparency can cause trust issues between the management and subordinates as well as results in operational inefficiency.

Why are they both important?

Both accountability and transparency are vital to drive an organisation towards success. Keeping actions transparent and people accountable allows you to achieve your targets quickly and efficiently as you’re not only in a position to identify issues but find their root cause. Accountability and transparency are crucial for a company’s success because:

  • They improve the relationship between employees
  • Promote a sense of mutual trust between management and employees
  • Provide building blocks for resource efficient problem-solving
  • Provide an opportunity for productive involvement and engagement

Transparency helps you build a culture of trust which leads to stronger employee-employer relationship. Employees feel valued and understand their work is being appreciated when employers ensure transparency in the workplace. They are more likely to align themselves with the company’s vision and goals and they try to figure out how their efforts can help the company achieve those goals.

Employees are also willing to offer ideas and work even harder when leaders are open and clear about the organisational setbacks.

Transparency helps build an engaged taskforce but also improves individual accountability. When employees make a mistake, they are more likely to admit it and take corrective measures. This enables people to work together to help overcome each other’s weaknesses and drive growth as a unit.

Fostering accountability and transparency in the workplace

Evolution has given human beings a resilient defensive mechanism and that’s why they don’t like to be held accountable. However, it’s not the accountability they dislike, it’s that feeling of vulnerability that comes with it. That’s why if you’re looking to build a culture of true and effortless transparency and accountability, you need to ensure nobody feels vulnerable. Here’s how you can do it:


Tell your workforce that they’re completely free to be honest and there won’t be any consequences for telling it like it is. They should’ve a permission to call you out.


Give people a chance to argue their case. If they’ve taken certain decisions or actions, there must be some reasoning behind it. Accommodate their perspective and if there’s disagreement, be respectful and polite.


Develop transparent and fair monitoring and evaluation processes to assess outcomes regularly. Ensure people who deserve it are given due credit.

I have my three principles which have always helped me maintain a high level of transparency and accountability. These principles are plan, prioritise and partner. You should have a plan and a list of things you need to do sorted by their importance. Also, get yourself a partner who keeps you honest and calls you out when you put your toe out of the line.

Accountability and transparency holding hands

When we talk about ideal management, transparency and accountability go hand in hand. This can be witnessed on both small and large as well as individual and collective scales. Governments rely on both to justify their actions to the people. Likewise, organisations which are transparent in their endeavours and have individual accountability have positive reputation among employees and customers.

When organisations are transparent about their actions, they can be held accountable by the people. Fair accountability isn’t possible if you’re keeping people in the dark and not being transparent.

What happens if you don’t get them right?

Transparency and accountability are vital to tackle inefficiency in the workplace. A transparent organisation is always clear about its policies, responsibilities of its employees and their roles. The best example of lack of accountability and transparency is an organisation where:

  • Employers are not held accountable for their abuse of power and unfair decisions and actions
  • Employees are underpaid, underappreciated and don’t have a productive and effective recourse seeking process
  • Favouritism and nepotism are rampant and promotions aren’t given to deserving employees

Lack of these core values can lead to a fall of the organisation. If the trust between employer and employee isn’t strong, it has a significant impact on the workplace as there’s no transparent communication of true intentions and goals.

This culture forces employees to switch their jobs and start looking for a workplace with better transparency. Losing good employees can lead to a significant financial loss along with the cost of recruiting, hiring and training new employees.


Transparency and accountability are essential in building a successful business. Without these basic characteristics, you can’t foster relationships that are based in mutual trust and shared goal. To have a workforce follow your lead, you have to keep them motivated by being transparent to them. Let them know how they can help you in reaching the organisational goals and what would their rewards be when they reach there.