Four Ways to becoming an Accountable Leader


What’s separates great leaders from good leaders? Accountability! Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York City writes in his book about leadership,

“More than anyone else, leaders should welcome being held accountable. Nothing builds confidence in a leader more than willingness to take responsibility for what happens during his watch. One might add that nothing builds a stronger case for holding people to a high standard than a boss who holds himself to even a higher ones.”

Why is accountability so important to leadership? Why is it so hard for leaders to take responsibility for their actions?

Accountability is not a dirty word. Accountability can make the difference between a credible and respected leader in any organization compared to a leader who is just getting by without making an impact. Accountability trumps trust and higher level of performance in teams, organizations and communities. Show me an accountable leader and I will show you a culture that has strong trust, delivers better results and fosters better customer relationships.

As leaders we produce results every single day. We work with people, coach and mentor them to deliver better customer service, better profits, revenues, cost control and inspiring people to a higher level of performance. Does your organization have a culture of accountability?

Roger Connors and Tom Smith, in their book How Did That Happen, write that,

“A culture of accountability, by definition, is a team, department, division, or companywide culture in which people take accountability to think and act in the manner necessary to achieve desired organizational results.”

Accountable leaders establish a level of consistency. They have daily discipline and lifetime habits that win the day. When you hold yourself accountable to creating consistent results, you are building trust and credibility with your leadership, your team and the entire organization.

So how can good leaders become great leaders through better accountability? Here are some suggestions to being an accountable leader:

Establish clear expectation with everyone- The first step to being an Accountable Leader is to communicate clearly the expectations you have for your team performance. Your team must know your values and what goals they need to achieve in order to create success on all fronts. Whether it’s customer service, sales, implementing a new program, etc.

Without clear expectations, people will not understand your vision for the company. Often times, we share those early on but forget to reinforce these expectations on a consistent basis. The challenge is to build momentum by re-visiting these expectations on a regular basis.

Be honest with yourself and the team-There is nothing worse than cheating yourself and other people. Paulo Coelho, the Brazilian lyricist and novelist, remarked that “If you want to be successful, you must respect one rule – Never lie to yourself.” I would continue to add to never lie to others. Being honest about the results you produce is the mark of a great leaders. You can’t advance and grow as a leader with cheating yourself and the system.

More importantly, it’s a reflection of your true character as a person. Are you willing to admit mistakes and not pass to buck? People will only follow a leader who is honest even when times are challenging and complicated. Remember this is where trust comes in.

Are you willing to learn and get better? Great leaders learn from their mistakes. They learn to adjust their sail to the ever changing complexity of life. They don’t shy away from the lessons learned. They are willing not only to take responsibility but reflect on what they can learn in the process and move forward.  When you stop offering excuses and willing to say, “What can I learn here?” You are on the path to becoming a better leader. You are saying to the people you lead that you are willing to make a change and improve yourself.

Measure your success-The only way to really find out if you are leaving a mark in your organization is to look at the daily results you are producing. There is a saying that what’s gets measured, get done. Results speak louder than words.  Your leadership is just as good as the last result you and your team produced by working and collaborating together whether it’s a project or an assignment that was crucial to create a win-win solution.



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