The One Thing Most Leaders Forget About Accountability

While it’s true that Accountability starts at the top, and that if leaders don’t walk the talk, and meet their commitments, it will be almost impossible to create a culture of accountability.

Yes, if you model accountability, some people will become more accountable. But it takes more than that to make accountability and ownership the norm within an organization.

If you truly want to create a culture of accountability you have to HOLD people accountable.

Most leaders, seem to forget this piece.

That’s probably because it’s the difficult part, the one where we have to focus on changing people’s behaviors, which is always tough.

I have had clients who have told me that; they don’t like to hold people accountable because it feels too confrontational, and that can often have the wrong impact and end up with a culture of blaming, or even worse naming and shaming.

All of which actually reduces accountability.

So I can understand why people shy away from it, forget about it, or just hope that by being accountable themselves that others will magically become more accountable.

But hope is not a strategy.

If you want people to be accountable, then you need to hold them accountable.

You can do this is a way that is non-confrontational.

However, if people continually fail to deliver, then you will need to confront them about it if you really want to improve their performance.

Here are three things you can do to introduce a culture of accountability that will help make it feel easier for you.

Approach Accountability from a position of support.

Don’t think of implementing accountability as something where it’s all about holding people accountable, think of it as being supportive of them. It’s about putting them in a position to succeed, which is really the essence of good leadership. This will help you see accountability as a positive rather than a negative thing, and that will also come across that way to your team.

Remind them that their success is your success, so your goal is to help them to become more successful. Most people won’t feel confronted when you approach them a supportive way.

Let people know they will be held to account.

You need to let your teams know that they are going to be held accountable, and do this by informing them up front, You can hold people accountable by surprise, you need to let them know whats expected and that you will be checking up to see how they are doing. It would be great to think that everyone holds themselves to account, but that’s not the case. Competing and conflicting things that can crop up, but by letting them know that you will be checking to see the progress made, helps to keep them more focused and this work in priority.

Regularly review performance, where you offer support or praise.

Once you have let people know that there will be reviews you need to be religious about having them. Make them a standard part of the working culture. Group reviews are great, especially if you look at them from a supportive perspective. You get the teams to present how they are doing, and if things are not going great ask them what they need, how can you help them get back on track (which is actually your job by the way) and if things are going well offer praise.

When you take this nonthreatening approach to accountability, it will help your teams to take more ownership, and group reviews will also encourage more cooperation and collaborations, as well as sharing of ‘best practices’ which will help to boost performance levels.

Accountability doesn’t happen by chance, it happens by design. 

Yes, you need to be a role model for accountability, but you also need to hold people to account. Implementing this in a way that is up front, visible and supportive will help it to be perceived as a positive step, which will help drive accountability as part of your company culture.