Accountability is a buzz word in the workplace.  Everyone knows that it is important, and most would voice a desire to cultivate a culture of accountability.

These are valid desires.  High performance teams have engaged employees who have high trust in one another and in the organization and understand how to foster accountability.

When people don’t have personal accountability and accountability as a team, performance suffers.  Execution declines because the commitment to doing work well and delivering on time is lax.  It becomes a slippery slope where we excuse one another and our lack of performance results in the team being delayed.

We desire accountability.  We recognize the costs of a lack of accountability.

But do we have an accountable culture?  Do we understand what to do when we see a lack of accountability?  As HTG executive coach Hardin Byars would say, “So what?  Now what?”

Build Trust.  How stable is your pyramid?

In the book The Advantage, Patrick Lencioni writes that trust is foundational for building a cohesive team.  It is what every other aspect of a cohesive team is built upon.

Having healthy trust allows a team to deal with conflict, to come to shared commitment, and then to hold one another accountable.  High accountability leads to high performance which drives results.

Every member needs to be held accountable if a team is to reach its objectives.  Intentions are not the measurement; actions are the basis of accountability.  Did I do what I said I would do when I said I would do it?

Lencioni reminds that “conflict is about issues and ideas; accountability is about performance and behavior.”

Do you have a performance issue?  It is likely you have an accountability issue.

Let’s learn about how to build trust by focusing on characteristics of teams who have a high-trust environment.

In teams who have cultivated a high degree of trust:

  • People focus on the solution not the blame, something Jim Collins calls an “autopsy without blame.”
  • The team creates safety. People are confident they can get up and try again if they make a mistake.
  • People give praise where praise is due.

See a lack of accountability in your company?  The first thing to do is to evaluate levels of trust and work on building a high-trust environment.  Stabilize your pyramid.

In this blog series we will examine several ways to build the accountable culture we all desire.  Today we learned it all starts with trust.  In our next post we will discuss another aspect of building an accountable culture: write it down.

At HTG Peer Groups we put 10-12 business leaders together in high-trust, accountable peer groups to share best practices and help one another drive results.  If you are interested in learning more about joining an HTG group, visit our website at