10 Keys To Building a Culture Of Accountability

bigstock-Follow-The-Leader-On-Blackboar-38237431Two weeks ago I wrote about how leaders needed to be more human to achieve the “success trifecta” – a great company, happy employees, and a fulfilled leader.

One of the pillars of the more human philosophy is the establishment of the Culture of Accountability.  I touched on it briefly on that previous post – it’s the key to getting to a place where “the need to be good is replaced with a relentless passion to be great”.

There are 10 things every leader must do to foster this culture:

1)   Roles & responsibilities are clearly (and properly) defined – What are the expectations of every position, and why do they matter?   They must be thought through, and documented. It’s time consuming, yes, but there will be a huge return on that investment.

2)   New hires reflect a match of the right personalities (and skillsets) with the jobs – No matter how hard we try, we can’t change personalities. If they are not predisposed to thrive in a Culture of Accountability, don’t hire them.

3)   The “what” and “why” are communicated, relentlessly – The leader is a “contextual conduit”, providing clarity and consistency at every opportunity.  And I mean EVERY.  You’re not saying it enough until you hear “there he (or she) goes again”.

4)   The right metrics & measurements are set up – Each position needs objectives measure of success, from both a personal, team, and company-wide perspective.  Choose them wisely, and keep them to a small and manageable number.

5)   The metrics are monitored and measured, relentlessly – All the cool metrics in the world can’t do a lick of good unless there’s a human digesting (and using) them.  My biggest pet peeve is wasting valuable time by creating reports that are never read.

6)   Performance reviews are not “have to dos” but “want to dos” – Interactions between leader and teammate regarding performance should be an ongoing open dialogue, not a process driven, obligatory drudgery.  They should be welcomed, not feared.

7)   When expectations are not met, consequences must follow – It’s all about being fair and honest– it not only affects the person involved, but the entire team.

8)   Peer mentoring should be encouraged – There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing long-time teammates take a new peer under their wing, or seeing team meetings that rarely need management intervention to inspire better performance.

9)   Great performance HAS to be acknowledged and rewarded –  The other end of the spectrum but just as important (see #7 above).

10)  Leaders have to show the way and hold themselves accountable – It all starts with YOU.   You have to “walk the walk”.   You have to be more human. Only then will the Culture of Accountability really take flight.

Don’t just “need to be good”.  Go for greatness.

Lead well!

(Photo by Bigstock)


  1. says

    Number 8 is something you don’t see encouraged a lot. I like how you put it but I think we can take it a step further and apply it not to just new peers but old peers as well.

    We all tend to have our unique ways of doing our jobs. Sometimes this leads to us doing something quicker or more efficiently than others. If we’re able to share this with our peers, it could change the way we do work.

  2. says

    Number 3 is the one I see neglected the most. So often it’s compliance for compliance’s sake and the reasons for changes or initiatives is poorly communicated. This relates to your comment about reports as well. Often, the entire purpose for a report is for management to make sure people are getting it done. Well, that’s a waste of everyone’s time. The purpose of a report should be to create useful information that leads to better decisions.

    The most important is certainly number 10. How many times have I seen a leader preach something over and over and then not do it themselves. As leaders, we have to hold ourselves to a higher standard than we hold our team to breed respect and set an example. It’s all about believing and valuing what we do.

  3. says

    Thank you Nick for your great comment, and the mention in your blog (loved your post, by the way). It’s worth repeating – “It’s all about believing and valuing what we do” Amen, and thanks again!



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