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    5 Leadership Tips for Building a Culture of Accountability

Tips to Inspire Your Team and Drive Productivity

How do you spot a culture of accountability? That’s the challenge we talked about recently with our post on How to Identify a Culture of Accountability. Once you can spot an invigorating culture of accountability, the next step is building a culture of accountability yourself.

Be sure to remember from Harry S. Truman, accountability starts at the top. Take a second and make sure that you yourself are at the top of the accountability ladder and then use these tips to inspire those you lead.

5 Leadership Tips for Building a Culture of Accountability

1. Set clear expectations. Accountable people embrace communication that is clear, specific and mutually understood and accepted. Note that this is a mutual responsibility of both leaders and others at all levels within the firm.

2. Focus on timelines as well as deadlines. A timeline is the period when the work gets accomplished. A deadline is when the work is due. Focus on timelines and use them as “teachable moments” to offer guidance well before the deadline. Seek progress, not just perfection. This boosts confidence and competence!

3. Ask the right questions. Avoid “gotcha” questions. Be a coach, not a cop! When things are not going as planned, first ask yourself questions. “What is currently happening?” “What should be happening?” “Why is there a gap between what should be happening and what is currently happening?” “What could I have done differently?” “What will I do to ensure that this doesn’t happen again?”

4. Provide timely feedback. Look for frequent opportunities to provide feedback. Balance feedback between recognizing success (small and large) and identifying opportunities for improvement, most of us are used to hearing more bad news than good news. Deliver more good news (e.g., recognize success) than bad.

5. Promote and model transparency. Being honest and candid with people is a hallmark of integrity. Sharing the “real story” promotes trust, fosters problem solving and leads to higher levels of performance.


Select one or more of these tips to work on immediately. Share your intention with a colleague and set a follow-up date for the colleague to provide you with feedback. Then select the remaining tips and begin the process anew.


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