Lousy Leaders Enjoy Swinging the Stick of Accountability

By Dan Rockwell|17-11-2017 | 2 Min Read
How Do You Develop Accountability in Your Team?

Ineffective leaders might ask: “How do I hold people accountable?” Their real question is: “How do I pressure resistant people into doing what I want them to do?” When leaders ask how to hold others accountable, ask: “How are you holding yourself accountable?

Effective accountability:

  • Accountability is for people who row together. If you aren’t rowing in the same direction, accountability becomes threat and punishment.
  • Hold yourself accountable before holding others accountable. Openly develop your leadership if you expect people to develop theirs.
  • Focus accountability on personal growth and development that adds value to self, customers, and colleagues. 


Nurture growth in people that produces useful results

6 steps toward accountable growth:

  1. Say: “Imagine you’re adding even more value to teammates and/or customers. What’s different about you?” (This question is for experienced, motivated team members.)
  2. What new behaviours might move you in the direction you want to go? (List three.) 
  3. How might you put one of those behaviours into practice this week?
  4. What exactly will you say or do?
  5. When will you put your new behaviour into practice? Find daily opportunities to practice new behaviours. Avoid conversations that begin with: “I didn’t have a chance to practice my new behaviour.”
  6. Let’s get together in a week to debrief. I’ll ask,
  • What did you do?
  • How did it work?
  • What did you learn?
  • What would you like to do next week?

Get started

Begin holding others accountable by holding yourself accountable.

Switch the above conversation to the “I” voice. Go to a colleague/boss and say: “I imagine myself adding even more value to the team. The thing that’s different about me is…” Go through the first five points. At the end, ask: “Would you ask me the following questions (step 6)?”


This article is also available in Chinese.

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Tags: Executing Leadership

Dan Rockwell is a coach and speaker and is freakishly interested in leadership. He is an author of a world-renowned leadership blog, Leadership Freak.
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