Lack of Accountability: Stop Lying to Yourself. It’s a Big Deal.

Got results?  If not, a lack of accountability may be part of the reason.  Accountability and execution are interlinked.  Without accountability, execution tends to lag.

In this blog series we are examining several ways to build an accountable culture.  The first post in the series focused on the importance of cultivating a high-trust environment.

Trust alone, however, does not guarantee accountability that underpins effective execution and generates desired results.

Trust is built when people take personal ownership of their work and deliver on what they say.  It is sustained when employees consistently demonstrate that they understand the interdependent relationship of working as part of a team.

Yet, we all have “that teammate.”  The one who doesn’t hold him or herself accountable to getting work done well and on time.

It happens once.  We are lenient and extend grace.  It happens twice.  Then three times and eventually we expect delays on projects when working with that teammate.

It’s “no big deal,” we tell ourselves.  That’s “just Billy.”  He’s a talented teammate and these delays are a tradeoff for having his talent on the team.

We need to take a deep breath, look in the mirror and admit: We are lying to ourselves.  A lack of accountability IS a big deal.

We undervalue the impact of one person’s delay becoming the entire team’s delay.  One instance of unaccountable behavior impacts work further downstream and over time the quality of projects suffer and team morale dips.  Productivity takes a hit.

Is a lack of accountability a socially acceptable flaw in any of your teammates?  What if you knew some simple ways to build guardrails that would help hold everyone to the same standard?

Here are a few guardrails to consider putting in place if you want an accountable culture:

  • Put it on Paper. Break down projects into specific objectives and time-bound goals.  Write down the name of the person who commits to be accountable for the quality completion of each goal.  Make sure the commitments are realistic within the time allotted and ensure that the person who “owns” that goal is effectively resourced to be successful.  Putting goals on paper provides clear expectations that are public for everyone to see.  This is important in a team environment because of the interdependent nature of work.
  • Manage for Accountable Performance. What happens if someone is unaccountable?  Do you manage performance in a way that encourages accountability (positive or corrective feedback, coaching, etc)?  Do you enforce the expectation of accountable behavior consistently?  Employees respect leaders who hold people to a standard, and we raise our performance to meet a leader’s expectations.  After you put goals down on paper, meet regularly with the team for progress checks.  It is much easier to get a teammate back on track early in a project than to wait until the end and be forced to scramble and/or to accept sub-par work!
  • Make Accountability Integral to “Team.” When we make something part of our way of doing things, it normalizes it.  We talk about it, share ideas around it, have a common definition and most importantly LIVE it.  That’s just how we do things here.  It is everyone’s responsibility; we don’t do excuses.  We are accountable.

A lack of accountability is a big deal, but it doesn’t have to trip your team up.  These three simple guardrails and a high-trust environment are key components in creating an accountable culture.

At HTG Peer Groups we are in the business of transformation. We facilitate teams and individuals who want to put in place an accountable system to help them get results.  StratOp and LifePlan put goals on paper and help manage to successful completion of each goal.  If you are interested in learning more about transforming your business through the powerful StratOp process or to achieve your life goals and make your dreams attainable through the LifePlan system, visit our website at

2018-05-07T16:18:04+00:00 December 8th, 2016|Expedition: Leadership|0 Comments

About the Author:

Laurie Sorensen serves as a Learning Architect with HTG where she is energized by thinking, planning, speaking and writing on topics to help HTG members grow their leadership. One of the best aspects of her job is her role as a certified LifePlan facilitator who gets to walk with people on a journey of discovery as they unleash their purpose through guided perspective. Laurie is the author of the Planning for Success workbook which guides people through Business, Leadership, Life, and Legacy planning the HTG Way. She blends her intuitive ability to connect with people and her passion for HTG as she designs learning experiences that help people to grow personally and go home equipped to make a difference for others. Outside of work hours you can find Laurie spending time with international students or volunteering with Safe Families, a ministry that helps to stabilize families in need.

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