Accountability, the Individual and Integrity

There are two kinds of accountability in an organization – individual and organizational – and while they are related and stem from the same question of whether we are doing what we said we would do, there are fundamental differences that make it useful to explore them separately. Ultimately they are both connected to questions of congruence and integrity. For the individual, integrity is an inner question. For an organization, integrity is more of a social question that lies in the ways people in the organization treat one another and how they work together to serve the organization’s mission.

In a horizontal organization, personal integrity is essential. There are usually less outer incentives and consequences established and more dependence on the individual’s own inner strength. In a horizontal organization, one generally has more freedom and therefore more responsibility to be self-regulating. Here are some thoughts about aspects of individual accountability.

Standing in the Light

In a close-knit horizontal community or organization (like Waldorf School), it is essential to be willing to be open and exposed. As a teacher, one has daily interactions and growing relationships with students, parents and colleagues. What one does each day makes a difference in the lives of many others and can have a lasting effect. One must trust that one’s colleagues hired you because they saw in you the capacities to carry this work, and the soul flexibility to grow and develop over time. The key to standing in the light is to practice each day turning the light of one’s own consciousness upon oneself without judgment in quiet contemplation. This allows one to overcome any sensitivity to being open and exposed. It takes courage to be willing to be in the light and visible with all one’s strengths and challenges, mistakes and successes and to let others see who you are.

Living in Trust

The more horizontal an organization, the greater number of meaningful relationships one must embrace. In addition, a horizontal organization requires that individuals be more involved in carrying a feeling of responsibility and awareness of the whole. Both of these require openness to others and their way of doing things, and commitment to ongoing dialogue and sharing feedback. They also require a willingness to trust the process as it unfolds, transforms and evolves.

Practicing Self-Awareness and Commitment to Learning

Part of the genius of the horizontal organization is the recognition that every individual is important to the whole. The more individuals feel a part of the whole, the more they can be mirrors for one another’s and the organization’s progress. Every situation presents individuals and groups with an opportunity to learn and grow. To be willing to look back on events, actions and processes and see them objectively, to understand the importance of agreements, and to see the effects of one’s actions can yield insights that can help individuals grow and organizations develop.