Be Accountable For What You Say You’ll Do And Others Will Follow

Want your team to be accountable for their jobs? It starts with you taking responsibility for yours.


Accountability is as simple as doing what you say you’re going to do, says Keith Ferrazzi, chief executive of Los Angeles-based executive coaching firm Ferrazzi Greenlight and author of “Leading Without Authority.” But there’s another part of it that involves being responsible to your teammates.

“Getting it done is one thing, but having a sense of trust and belonging is an important element,” he said.

Accountability is as vital now more than ever because so much change is taking place so rapidly, says Eric Strafel, author of “The Frontline CEO” and founder of Dallas-based business growth accelerator Summi7. It helps to have clear responsibilities amid changes.

Be accountable by taking ownership for your actions and decisions every day, Strafel says. Revisit them too.

“Are the choices you’re making on a daily basis moving you closer to your goals?” Strafel said. “Personal accountability is reflecting at the end of every day to see if you made a small step forward.”

Be Accountable Through Clarity

Start by being clear about what people should be accountable for. Ferrazzi says the boss and employee should meet weekly to discuss tasks for which the employee is accountable. This can take the form of three questions at the end of each week. Did we get it done? Where are we struggling? What are we going to do next week?

“This simple thing of weekly negotiation of accountable sprints (to meet goals) is a very high-return practice,” Ferrazzi said.

He used to do them with his kids. They would set their weekly goals and he’d help them work toward those targets. If they didn’t get those tasks done, he’d work with them to identify what stopped them and how they could do better in the coming week.

“You need the piece, ‘You will get your homework done and I will make sure to lift you up.’ I’m going to coach and support,” he said. Even if the boss doesn’t initiate it, the employee should be accountable for being clear about his or her responsibilities.

“I can do it, even if the boss isn’t good at it,” Ferrazzi said. “If you want great things in your life, you take the bull by the horns. Practices lead to change of mindset. Really simple new practices lead to transformational change.”

Lift Others To Be Accountable

Many managers say they don’t have time to help people be accountable. Ferrazzi suggests organizations push for peer-to-peer accountability. People can hold each other accountable for their roles, even if the leader doesn’t. He calls the end result “co-elevation.”

“It’s holding each other accountable and pushing each other higher,” he said. How do you do it? List the items for which you’re taking accountability.

“Writing it down makes it real,” Strafel said. “If you don’t write it down, people and employees get trained to wait until next quarter when something new will come along. As the leader, your responsibility to your team is to make sure they understand what they’re accountable for.”

Leaders need to take accountability if things go wrong, Strafel said. Let the team take credit for successes. But if there’s a problem, be accountable and talk about what you can do differently next time. “By doing so, I open the door for my team to demonstrate their ability to learn from it,” Strafel said.

Allow people to take risks without fear of repercussions, too. That will foster personal growth.

“A failure of accountability is it can keep people in a box if you’re not willing to allow people to make mistakes and learn from them,” Strafel said.

It doesn’t mean people can make all the mistakes they want with no consequences. But rather than focusing on results, hold them accountable to learn from those mistakes. “Prioritize learning as much as results,” Strafel said.


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