How to Improve Accountability

The word “accountability” can have a lot of negative connotations for people, including managers.  In most cases, that’s because they either don’t understand accountability, or had a bad experience with a boss who used accountability as a cudgel. 

It doesn’t have to be that way.

It’s not that people don’t want to be accountable.  It’s that they don’t want to get belittled or punished.  In companies where accountability is strong, people feel the opposite.  They feel energized and empowered.

When a company has weak accountability, there are usually three key attributes at work:

  • First, the concept of accountability has not been well-defined.
  • Second, there is no clear system of accountability.
  • Third, there exists distrust about how accountability will be managed.

And given all three, there can be a high level of resistance to accountability.

Yet, in highly productive organizations, employees find accountability to be energizing and motivating.

Here are the keys:

  1. Accountability has a strong focus on results, not activities.
  2. Management sets direction with clear priorities defined by a few objectives and targeted results.
  3. Employees have significant freedom to determine how to achieve objectives.
  4. Managers know how to both validate results, and productively address situations where performance is lagging.

Copyright 2019  Bob Legge


I am a trusted advisor on strategy implementation and executive effectiveness to leaders of Fortune 500 companies, mid-size companies, nonprofits, education, and government. My work helps leaders drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce faster, sustainable growth and value. 

If you want to seize new opportunities, dramatically improve your leadership effectiveness, and free-up more time for yourself and your family, give me a call.

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