Mastering The Art of Creating Accountability

in traditional environments, is about power …

Who has it? How is it used? The teeth in traditional accountability is the power to reward and punish.

Accountability as pressure:

Short-sighted leaders use accountability to pressure people.

The context of pressure is resistance.

Dependence on traditional accountability suggests people are alreadyresistant.

Useful accountability:

Accountability is drawing out the best in others.

#1. Help people excel at what they want to do, not what you’re pressuring them to do.

People need new jobs when the things they want don’t serve organizational goals.

#2. Expect people to do what they say.

Hold people accountable to the commitments they impose on themselves, not the ones you impose on them.

#3. Focus on their power, not yours, when creating accountability.

Powerful people go further than powerless.

#4. Honor follow through.

#5. Call out inconsistency.

Mediocrity prevails when inconsistency wins the day.

#6. Discuss how people are depending on each other.

#7. Clarify expectations.

Ambiguity is the enemy of accountability.

Seven simple ways to create accountability:

  • Deadlines.
  • Reports and check-ins.
  • “How is your project going,” asked at the water cooler.
  • What would you like me to ask the next time we meet?
  • What are you going to do next/today/this week?
  • When are you taking your next step?
  • What are you going to do?


Four essentials for healthy accountability:

  • Shared passion to maximize talent.
  • Shifts from external coercion to internal drive.
  • Respect for success.
  • Consequences for failure. One consequence might be removal of responsibilities.

A point of discomfort …

I’m troubled by reliance on promises and commitments. Reliance on promises suggests this time you really mean it; normally you don’t.

Accountability is about clarifying results and behaviors, not making promises.

Where does accountability go wrong?

What are the aspects of healthy accountability?




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About the author : Dan Rockwell

Dan Rockwell

I had my first leadership position in the non-profit world at the age of nineteen. Since then, I earned an MBA, as well as, undergraduate degrees in Theology, Pastoral Ministry, and Construction and Design. I’ve also owned two businesses and served fifteen years as a Workforce Development Consultant for a Penn State University Special Affiliate. In that capacity, I designed courses, hired and mentored instructors, and delivered hundreds of presentations for local, regional, and global organizations. Currently, I coach leaders, consult with organizations, and deliver corporate and community presentations.

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