Do good work.
Regardless of what type of work you do, to be accountable and to be excellent at work, you must do good work. Keep in mind that your work is why they hired you. Whether you work for yourself or you have a boss like most people do, you must take pride of ownership in your work. My favorite quote about doing good work, comes from Martin Luther King Jr. who says: “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”
Own your errors and your mistakes.
We all make them, so no sense acting like we don’t. Hopefully, you work in an environment that is not primarily punitive. We all know those environments where the first reaction is always to punish or put on blast the person who makes an error. This kind of environment breeds subterfuge and a blaming workplace. Being excellent at work means adapting the Steve Jobs approach to handling mistakes: “Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It’s best to admit them quickly and get on with improving your other innovations.”
Stay ethical, speak up and maintain your integrity.
At the end of the day, there are few things that we have with us all the time, regardless of our circumstances. One of those things is our personal integrity. Each of us make our own decisions about what we will do or won’t do and what our ethical boundaries are. Once you have established your ethical boundaries, consider living by this Elie Wiesel quote: “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”