How do you view the concept of accountability? Some people view accountability positively.  They see it as an opportunity to grow personally and to improve professionally. Others view accountability negatively.  When accountability is viewed from the top down or as mandated responsibility, people feel micromanaged or like someone is looking over their shoulder. 

Trust and Accountability

Think about it for a moment. How do you best fulfill your commitments? I’m guessing that where you do not trust the people around you, you are not motivated to be your best. But where you experience trust, clear expectations, and frequent updates you gladly give it all you have. 

Reflect upon what you want or need regarding accountability. Consider the following: 

1. Lead by example and hold yourself accountable first.

As a leader, you set the attitude for the people you lead. They will follow your lead. If you are continuously showing up late for meetings, missing deadlines, and not owning up to your mistakes, the people you are leading will do the same. 

If you want the best out of the people you lead:

  • Complete your work or assignments by the timeline you agreed upon
  • Respect everyone’s time by showing up prepared and on time
  • Make the effort to support your team when needed. 

2. Work on your feedback skills.

One of the most important things you do as a leader is to provide feedback. Feedback is necessary, even when it is not easy to give.  Most people want to learn and grow personally and to improve and succeed professionally. So, even negative feedback is better than no feedback at all. When you offer feedback on a regular or continual basis (including positive feedback), it makes tough feedback much easier to give and receive. You also honor relationships and develop trust when people are not surprised by the feedback they are receiving. 

Brené Brown writes, “A leader is anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes, and who has the courage to develop that potential. As a leader, your feedback comes from a place of genuinely wanting to help someone grow. Remember that “clear is kind.” Your feedback should not be ambiguous. 

3. Recognize that procrastination is not helpful

When you procrastinate providing feedback, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. People want feedback, healthy and frequent feedback. When there are issues, address them in a timely manner. They rarely resolve themselves. In fact, when you don’t address them, they usually get bigger. It is easier to deal with the issue as soon as possible for you, for the person to whom you are providing the feedback, and to the people who are depending on you as their leader.  Remind yourself of this often.

4. Make accountability a habit

Setting up a reminder to give and to ask for feedback as part of every meeting. This will help ensure that feedback flows consistently. Make time to meet with individuals on a regular basis for one-to-one conversation and use meetings as a way to celebrate the ongoing work of the people involved. Both the one-to-one meetings and the group meetings are opportunities to practice accountability by making it a habit. each meeting agenda 

5. Recognize and celebrate progress

The most motivating of all forms of feedback is praise for good work. Identify, celebrate, and learn from successes. It motivates people to do their best and creates responsibility role models for others to follow.

When Feedback is Difficult

When you find providing feedback, as an accountable leader difficult, consider finding a coach to assist you in your leader development. Your coach will help you:

  • Address successes, challenges, ideas for improvement, and ways to integrate ongoing learning and development.
  • Recognize development and growth opportunities for the people you lead. When you develop healthy relationships and stay in close contact with the people around you, you know where their gaps are and where the potential lies.
  • Develop empathy and compassion. When people feel cared for, they are more likely to be responsible. When they feel neglected, they are not motivated. Criticism and threats only discourage healthy relationships and accountability.
  • Provide positive feedback. Most people say the most memorable recognition they ever received was from a high-level leader. Remember, praise for good work is a powerful leadership tool. 

Model Accountability

As a leader, you can’t force people to develop a meaningful sense of accountability. But you can create the atmosphere that promotes commitment and responsibility by modeling accountability. Develop relationships, communicate clearly, and give frequent updates. 

So, how do you view the concept of accountability? The people around you are taking their cues from you.  What is one thing you will do this week to model accountable leadership? Maybe you can think of it this way, “How do I want to grow personally and improve professionally?” Remember, who you are is how you lead. 

When you need and want assistance, remember that Sara Thomas and I are with you in your leadership journey. When we can be of encouragement or help, contact us at connect@transformingmission.org. We are ready to assist you with insights and resources in becoming a courageous leader.

Check out LeaderCast. On the podcast this week, Sara Thomas and I continue our discussion on Accountable Leadership. If you have not been a LeaderCast listener, you want to start with this one. Check out Episode 175 of LeaderCast. This is one resource you will want to have as you navigate the challenges of 2021. Again, who you are is how you lead. 

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