Difference Between Ownership and Accountability

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: April 30, 2023


Difference Between Ownership and Accountability

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The distinction between ownership and accountability is a topic that is frequently discussed these days. Managers and employees are unable to distinguish between these phrases or define what they mean. By incorporating accountability activities into their daily agenda, such as giving timely feedback and tracking progress toward objectives, managers may keep people responsible. However, managers are unable to demand ownership. Unlike responsibility, it is internal rather than extrinsic. Although duty and accountability are sometimes used interchangeably, their meanings are significantly different. These phrases are frequently used in professional contexts. While accountability is personal and unique, responsibility may be shared. All workers must be aware of the expectations placed on them by their management, and this is done through the accountability system. Managers cannot impose ownership requirements on employees. Although you cannot impose ownership, you may foster an environment where it is more likely to succeed.

Only you can accept responsibility for your job; your manager can only impose accountability.

The major distinction between ownership and responsibility is that the former refers to the act of claiming and possessing an asset or anything else that is useful in operating a company. Ownership is a person's property that may be transferred legally and hierarchically by following the necessary procedures. While "accountability" is defined as becoming accountable and responsible for a certain task or position. When we are responsible for our objectives, we concentrate on those that are relevant to our immediate environment. However, taking ownership entails being concerned with the overall performance of the company as opposed to simply our individual job responsibilities.

Each person owes it to the system to participate, whether it's by assignment, by design, or otherwise. And those with assigned or planned responsibilities should answer to the company's management or staff for the safety performance under their purviews. Similar to ownership, accountability is a pretty simple concept. Accountability means that your performance in carrying out the tasks for which you were accountable will be evaluated.

Ownership vs Accountability

Taking responsibility relates to how you achieve your objectives; accountability refers to what they are. By taking responsibility, you commit to making every effort to provide top-notch service. You may benefit from developing your capacity for accountability. As a manager, accountability is accepting responsibility for the outcomes and repercussions. After a significant incident or issue arises, accountability develops, and the outcome depends on how someone reacts to and takes ownership of the problem. Mia is called upon by her boss for a meeting. Her boss decided to grant her a promotion since she gives everything she has to every work and is a good supervisor. Later she was informed: "Mia, you are accountable for your team." He was then promoted to HR of a department.  "Accountable" in this context indicates that Mia will ensure that his team performs well and that he must utilise every member of his squad to the fullest extent possible. Many individuals either confuse the concepts of "taking ownership" and "being accountable," or they completely disregard taking ownership and concentrate exclusively on making others responsible for their deeds and objectives.

Taking ownership entails doing everything is necessary to guarantee top-notch service at every stage, as opposed to just aiming for a general accountability objective. While taking ownership refers to our readiness to assist in other areas, even if they are not strictly "our job," accountability simply relates to our own work and goals. Accountability has no limit or cap since it focuses on individual acts or tasks, one at a time, regardless of the state of the objective, whereas accountability has a "ceiling" represented by the entire goal.

Difference between Ownership and Accountability In Tabular Form

Parameters of Comparison Ownership Accountability
Meaning Ownership is the legally binding association between a person and a thing. To be held responsible and liable for such conduct is to be held accountable for your commitments and duties.
Property Property that is founded on law and trade and is not personality-based. a trait based on personality that emphasises one's obligations.
Relationship Owner and Asset.

Owner and resources.

Manager and employees.

Manager and staff.

Type of Term It has legal meaning. It is management jargon and not legal.

What is Ownership?

In order to legitimately claim ownership, ownership is actually the prerequisite. The chance of strong employee involvement and ownership must be improved by managers by creating a positive work environment. Claiming "ownership" of a certain circumstance or object. It is the exclusive authority to exercise the established obligation. By taking ownership, people and teams accept responsibility for the calibre and effectiveness of their work's production and results. It entails understanding why you are working (the outcome) and ensuring that what you do (the output) is appropriate for its intended use. People with a distinct attitude who want to see their firm succeed, assuring stability, revenues, and expansion, have a feeling of ownership. It's about objectives, concepts, and a sense of unity.

Ownership is a sense that professionals who perceive the success of the business as an overarching aim of the entire team produce or hold; it cannot be outsourced. In addition, it entails thinking critically and pushing oneself rather than just passively following directions. Money can be used to acquire ownership. In the sense that the owner of any asset or object also owns the landlord's financial advantages, ownership is conscientious. Employees might decide not to take ownership of their position, the objectives of their organisation, and the mission of their business. Inevitably, private ownership implies that one's community or state will support efforts to prevent others from using or enjoying one's goods without one's consent. When given increased responsibility, employees frequently experience a temporary rise in ownership. High-performance, ownership-focused firms are dedicated to providing employees with training and development opportunities that enable them to comprehend the information, make better decisions, and enhance company outcomes. Buying it for cash, swapping it for something more value, donating it as a gift, misfiling it, or having one's "ownership" taken away by legal means such as foreclosure, bankruptcy, possession, or seizure are many ways to shift or lose property ownership.

Ownership is conscious in the sense that the owner of any asset or object also owns the landlord's financial benefits. Employees cannot be forced to take responsibility by managers. It is internal rather than external, such as accountability. Workers might choose not to assume responsibility for their jobs, their agency's aims, or their company's vision. You cannot compel ownership to occur, but you can create an environment conducive to ownership.  You can sell it for cash, purchase it for more money, trade it for something else, give it as a present, or misfile it. Ownership is termed conscience in the sense that any item or asset owner also owns the landlord's economic advantages.

Managers cannot make workers accept responsibility.

The following are examples of ideal environment elements:

  • Work that is both challenging and enjoyable to solve.
  • Relationship to the job, the team, and/or the industry/organization
  • Connections that bring people together are stronger.

A sense of being cared for. Managers that show their employees that they care and make them feel unique will get more employee ownership.

What is Accountability?

Accountability means that you will be held responsible for carrying out your obligations. It calls for clarification and has implications. Someone holds you responsible, but because you feel responsible for the results of your actions, you will also hold yourself responsible. Employees feel pressure and anxiety as a result of responsibility. Within a set of guidelines and structures, they are allocated duties. As a manager, business owner, or other form of leader, your aim should be to move your team members from a position of duty to ownership. Accountability in ethics and governance refers to answerability, blameworthiness, culpability, and the requirement of accounting.

Employees with responsibilities put more effort into avoiding punishment than producing beneficial results. This perspective on their job at the organisation may cause individuals to conceal negative information and downplay disasters. Being responsible for something and finally being held accountable for your actions are two different concepts of being accountable. The accountability system is intended to foster consistency and understanding among employees about what their managers expect of them. In the workplace, these phrases are frequently used. Your credibility in the situation is at stake. While accepting responsibility comes from inside and necessitates our own initiative, accountability is "forced" upon us by other forces. To understand this, let us first define responsibility in management. To promote employee stability and sustenance, the accountability system assists them in understanding what their supervisors want from them, what greatness is in intervention, and how they are doing in relation to their goals. Managers keep people accountable for meeting objectives.

It is performed by a number of acts, including:

  • Bringing clarity to positions and ensuring that the appropriate people are doing the right things.
  • Define, explain, and articulate expectations so that everyone understands what makes exceptional work performance.
  • Give employees honest, timely, and unequivocal feedback on their performance.

This has more of an impact than it would first appear to have. One has a rather unfavourable meaning because it is imposed upon us. If we only rely on responsibility, human nature can sometimes work against us and lead us to "rebel" in some way.

Here are a few instances of how to do this:

  • To experience being looked after.
  • The sense of independence to make decisions that may have an impact on their employment.
  • By giving them intriguing and difficult tasks to work on and solve.
  • The conviction that the task they are given is very important and meaningful to the company.

Main Difference between Ownership and Accountability In Points

  1. Accountability is a quality of responsible employees in a group or organisation, whereas ownership is only a property of an owner.
  2. While responsibility is a trait based on personality, ownership is a trait independent of personality.
  3. Legal processes are a part of ownership, but they are not a part of accountability.
  4. Accountability does not need ownership, but ownership does require accountability inside an organisation.
  5. Being accountable just implies taking responsibility for your actions, whereas ownership merely refers to claiming an asset.


Offering opportunities for advancement at all organisational levels shows your dedication to your executives and team members, who will subsequently become more vested in the company. One is responsible in a situation to the extent that they have a sense of ownership over it. The task will be done more correctly, thus this is better. The individual held accountable just feels like a worker if the feeling is one of accountability. When employees are included in the information stream, they develop a stronger feeling of loyalty and put out more effort to boost the effectiveness of the company.

It should be easy to identify who is responsible for a safety and work management system. Everyone employed by the firm should have some ownership in the system. Being accountable implies that you are responsible to make sure that work tasks are conducted securely. You must ensure the safety of all working activities that are under your supervision. Everyone is susceptible to the process. When leaders and team members are as dedicated to taking ownership and being accountable as they want the next person to be, taking responsibility and holding people accountable only function when both principles are applied at all levels.  To understand both, one is accountable in a situation if he or she has a sense of ownership over it.

This is desirable since the task will be performed more quickly. If the emotion is just accountability, the person held accountable feels like a worker. One is held accountable in a situation to the extent that he or she feels ownership over it. This is preferable since the work will be completed more thoroughly. If the sense is just accountability, the individual held accountable simply believes that he is a worker. If a person believes that he is the one claiming a specific work scenario, he will be driven even more.



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"Difference Between Ownership and Accountability." Diffzy.com, 2024. Mon. 10 Jun. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-ownership-and-accountability-613>.

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