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Profound Changes in the Workplace, Part II

Interview
Interview

Executives and managers have never faced more requirements of accountability.

Yesterday, this blog addressed the issue of answering more to our employeesin the ever more Darwinian workplace.

Today, the accountability we’ve always been aware of – service to bosses and boards – is the subject of some observations.

We have always been accountable, but never more so than today. In the wake of failures in the banking, insurance, newspaper, magazine and automobile industries, public and private boards are more attentive than ever. (Nobody likes failure, especially if they can be sued for it.) Add to the equation, ownership by Uncle Sam (or the threat of government ownership) and you have unprecedented scrutiny.

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If you’re not reporting to a Board, you’re probably reporting to someone who is. Or your boss’s boss is the one feeling the heat in the board room. In any case, managers and executives across the country have anxious shareholders and board representatives pacing and circling and wringing their hands.

Your job is to realize they have every right.

This is the worst economy in decades and some think it could get even worse before it gets better. And when companies can evaporate in a matter of days (see Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns) – and when other companies can collapse after many years of dominance (see GM, AIG) – you can’t be surprised by scrutiny or blame the scrutinizers.

You have one choice: work to put out the fire or get out of the kitchen. It’s reality. We are in brutal times. Either you have the skills to contribute, or you don’t. Things are not brutal because it feels so brutal right now. It’s brutal because it is brutal.

Tomorrow – the third and most important kind of new accountability for managers and executives.

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Erik Sorenson is CEO of Vault, the Web’s most comprehensive resource for career management and job search intelligence. Vault provides top talent with the insider information they need to make critical career decisions. An Emmy award-winning media industry veteran, Erik served as president of the MSNBC cable news channel through 2004. His experience spans radio, local and network broadcast television, cable and syndicated TV, and the Web.

Comments? Send them to executivecareers@cnbc.com