Be Accountable | FOW #12

Act like you are an owner in the company. Ownership accountability means holding yourself to account, holding others to account, and the willingness to be held to account.

Leadership, of course, includes modeling behavior you wish your team to mirror, so holding yourself to account is essential. Your openness about your own responsibilities and deadlines and your relative success in meeting them is key to your relationship with your own superiors/board as well as your team, and should hopefully result in similar behavior from your direct reports.

However, modeling accountability will only go so far.  To maximize the initiative, creativity, effort and work from your people and your company, accountability must be institutionalized.

Picture this: your company has scheduled and publicized a major new product or service release. Customers, investors, and press are all lined up.

Two days before D-Day, a major flaw is discovered and the release must be canceled, due to a mistake or mistrial which occurred months ago. The “culprit” is identified (and often mercilessly flogged or fired) – a mid-level development manager who was too scared to call out a problem which would disrupt the schedule and so moved on. But, the fault does not lie with that unfortunate manager.

Your role as a leader is to envision a path forward and, with your team, put a plan in place to actualize that vision. Roadblocks and bumps WILL happen, and the plan can be adapted accordingly. 

It is far less costly to make those adjustments as they happen, rather than when their potential effect snowballs into a major problem. By either creating your own or adapting an existing system of regular updates on accountable actions, you can avoid the major problems.

Each team or team member has deliverables and it is your responsibility to create a culture in which they are encouraged to flag problems and identify roadblocks in execution or deadlines early, and not punished for doing so. Management can then help to reallocate resources and/or adjust the plan.

Joel Trammell, in his book The CEO Tightrope, compares good senior management to walking a tightrope, requiring constant adjustment to move forward.


This culture of accountability is up to you to create and maintain. It is one of the key foundations in the hundreds of unique cultures Momentum consultants have helped leaders to create, institutionalize and use to lead them to success.

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