Daryn H. David, PhD is an associate research scientist at the Yale Child Study Center (YCSC) and associate director for leadership development in the Yale School of Medicine (YSM) Offices of Academic and Professional Development and Diversity, Equity, & inclusion. She is developing a new monthly on-line column, On Leadership, to address the importance of connection, collaboration, and embodying a service leadership mindset for flourishing both professionally and personally. The column will be published on the YCSC website beginning in October, as well as disseminated via the center’s monthly e-newsletter, YCSC Connections.
Following the recent release of a book she co-authored titled Conscious Accountability: Deepen Connections, Elevate Results, David answers a few questions about some of the concepts addressed in the book below. She plans to dive more deeply into related topics in the monthly column, which will begin with a three-part series on “Conscious Accountability in Action” – from academic medicine to clinical services to parenting. The column will also feature interviews with YCSC and YSM community members in various leadership positions and guest writers in the new year.
Why does accountability matter?
Accountability is the glue that brings about results! When we hold ourselves accountable, we have made a deal with ourselves to uphold or reach a certain set of standards. When we hold another person accountable, we are acting out of the expectation that they will work to bring about a certain outcome.
When people hear the word ‘accountability,’ a sense of fear and reprisal can spring to mind- that something bad will happen if you don’t follow through correctly. ‘Who is accountable for this?’ may serve as code for ‘Who messed this up?’ or ‘On whose watch did this go off the rails?’ and therefore, ‘Who should be punished for this outcome?’
The model my co-authors and I propose in Conscious Accountability: Deepen Connections, Elevate Results turns this notion on its head. In our framework, accountability can - and is - a generative force for good. It is the tie that binds people to one another, allowing plans to materialize as we simultaneously aim to deepen our relationships.
What does “conscious accountability” mean?
Conscious accountability is defined as “expanding awareness to create deliberate intentions, take informed actions, and be responsible for your impact.” What this means in real time is that when we engage with others in a task, we actively consider what we want to get done, how we can best work together to reach our outcomes, and how we can take responsibility for our collective process and results.
The book lays out a 7-step CONNECT framework for putting conscious accountability into practice. The emphasis at first is on establishing expectations fully, through clear communication, then building team psychological safety and making a wholehearted, honest attempt to actualize the results we set out to achieve.
But the model then goes a step further, encouraging us to step back and notice how well everyone is collaborating, exchange feedback about our process, own up to outcomes, and decide how we might do things differently the next time around.
How has conscious accountability informed your leadership development work at the YCSC?
Over the past few years, we’ve rolled out a number of different programs at the center geared toward helping our faculty and trainees learn essential leadership skills, especially early on in their careers. There are our peer support groups, in which early career faculty members learn the fundamental principles of peer coaching and are encouraged to use these skills to support one another through a range of professional challenges. This past semester, the groups were led by prior “graduates,” who are themselves faculty members within the CSC. I am very excited to see this leadership ripple effect unfolding in our center.
I am equally proud of our “Leadership from the Beginning” series, which is a group-based coaching engagement designed for the newest faculty to our department. Across five 2-hour sessions, each of which incorporates didactic and experiential learning, participants gain fundamental communication and organizational skills, establish career goals, and articulate leadership vision and purpose. Faculty are encouraged to pursue their fullest leadership potential and build enduring, supportive relationships with one another.
Success in academic medicine is so often measured by individual metrics. For instance, how many grants someone has PI’ed, or how many papers they have first-authored. In our leadership development courses, we stress the opposite: the importance of healthy teamwork and long-term thinking about one’s own and others’ professional trajectory. By emphasizing the importance of such conscious accountability concepts as vulnerable communication and soliciting feedback, collaborating deeply and trying again even when mistakes are made, my hope is that our faculty feel inspired to invest in and serve one another and the larger mission of YSM.
A licensed clinical psychologist, educator, and leadership development coach, David develops and delivers dynamic pedagogy and coaching programs to help academics and healthcare providers actualize their fullest professional potential. She further promotes the university’s educational mission by coaching within the Yale Greenberg World Fellows Program.
The book she co-authored, released on August 16, 2022, was co-written by psychologists and leadership development experts Dr. David Tate and Dr. Marianne Pantalon, with the aim of highlighting key skills and mindsets that deepen collaboration, enhance outcomes, and elevate leadership across various work domains.