Leadership Accountability: 6 Tips to Boost Team Performance

If you want to cultivate a culture of resilience, high performance, and innovation within your teams, prioritize leadership accountability. While coaching clients, when I speak about accountability, for many their initial thoughts revolve around integrity. This includes admitting faults when appropriate, never seeking to shift blame to others or not abiding by double standards.

I suggest that’s a good place to start, but it may miss the mark. Clients typically look at me quizzically at this point, so I ask whether this view of accountability is more empowering or limiting. In other words, does it focus more on how to be or what not to do? As we explore this, they understand how their definition of accountability is more punitive or aligned with a set of behaviors or consequences to avoid.

I challenge them to think bigger and more boldly. To bring something motivational and sustaining that broadens their perspective and transcends their more limited view.

From their reflections and our discussions, I compiled and combined the best of their responses to come up with the following:

Leadership accountability is the relentless commitment of those in positions of influence and authority to embrace responsibility as a catalyst for organizational growth, ethical resilience, and the unwavering trust of those they lead.

Accountable leaders shoulder the weight of decisions and consequences and cultivate a culture where every action reflects the values that guide the company’s progress toward excellence.

This is a powerful and motivating view of leadership accountability that broadens how we see accountability, aligns intentions with actions, and raises the bar on what we expect from ourselves and leaders.

With this in mind, let’s explore leadership accountability more deeply.

Accountability in leadership is a critical factor in maximizing team performance. However, only 49% of an organization’s leaders are seen as truly accountable according to a global survey of senior executives. By taking steps, organizations can create accountability in the workplace, where leaders are held responsible for their actions and decisions and team members feel confident that their leaders are working in their best interests.

The following are top advantages of building accountable leadership:

  • Creates a culture of responsibility – Leaders set the tone for organizational culture. When they demonstrate accountability, they cascade the importance of responsibility throughout the organization. This leads employees and teams to take greater ownership of their work and contribute to overall success.
  • Enhances decision making – Accountable leaders know they’ll be held responsible for the outcomes of their actions. They take the necessary time to gather information and insights, seek out differing perspectives, and weigh the impact of their choices.
  • Attracts and retains top talent – A culture of accountability contributes to employee satisfaction and retention and creates a workplace that’s more attractive to top talent.
  • Builds organizational resilience – Leaders who are accountable are more effective at leading their teams through adversity and inspiring confidence in turbulent times. They take setbacks or disappointments as learning opportunities to refine or sharpen tactics instead of resetting or abandoning their strategy.

When you’re leading with accountability, you scale your effectiveness and enhance your team’s capacity for sustainable high performance. Here are some tips you can implement now:

  1. Inspire your team toward greatness – Begin by clearly sharing your expectations in your leadership narrative. With those laid out, next create a vivid picture of the shared journey and the success that your team will generate. Help your team visualize success – once they can see it, they will guide their actions and decisions toward achieving it.
  2. Develop powerful, compelling goals – Build goals that align with and are part of a bigger vision to connect them with purpose and mission. Along with creating “SMART” goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-Bound), give your team a roadmap for success by promoting collaboration and teamwork. This helps your team clearly see the importance of their role in bringing this vision to reality.
  3. Empower innovation – Foster a company culture that encourages and celebrates taking calculated risks. Promote innovation to drive creativity and increase accountability for navigating new challenges or bringing clarity where there is uncertainty.
  4. Balance ownership with shared responsibility – Instill a sense of ownership in your team members so they’re empowered to make decisions within their roles. At the same time, promote a culture of shared responsibility where collective achievement is the pinnacle of success.
  5. Confront challenges fearlessly – Address challenges directly and promptly, and model using adversity and unintended outcomes as learning opportunities or ways to build resilience and resolve.
  6. Deliver feedback like a champion – Combine appreciation with constructive insight and guidance when assessing performance. Emphasize that evaluations are not judgments, but rather are opportunities for individual and collective growth that support a cycle of continuous improvement.

Accountable leaders are catalysts for excellence. They elevate individual and collective performance and create resilient, adaptable teams that are ready to navigate a dynamic landscape of challenges and opportunities. They become magnets for attracting top talent, through which they deliver high caliber results regardless of circumstance.

Coaching helps clients identify, challenge, and change what’s endemic in their performance that diminishes their effectiveness. Regarding accountability, this encompasses thoughts and behaviors that lead to judgment, skepticism, or fear and diminish trust, confidence, or connection with others.

Increasing emotional intelligence (EQ) is a primary focus in executive coaching for building accountability. Coaching here revolves around developing greater self and situational awareness of the leader’s and others’ emotions (as well as their impact on each other); maintaining optimism and motivation even in challenging scenarios; along with managing relationships, building rapport, and finding common ground.

Leaders with high EQ build a reputation for dependability and proactivity that distinguishes them from their less accountable, more reactive colleagues. Interactions with them are more rewarding and less stressful, and colleagues typically feel more empowered within their roles.

If you want to increase your team’s empowerment and potential for success, or if you know someone who struggles with accountability, consider booking a complimentary discovery call today with Leading Edge Coaching & Consulting.