Exploring the Five Behaviors: Accountability

As we discovered last month, commitment is achieved when there is a basis of Trust in a team, as well as team members productively working through Conflict to reach optimal decisions.

True Commitment requires two things: buy-in and clarity.

When team members fail to follow through on a commitment, there’s an easy way out: to avoid the situation, accept “what is,” and failing to address sub-par performance.

The harder, yet more productive path is paved by accountability. The ability of team members to call out behaviors or performance that may negatively impact the organization as a whole is the essence of Accountability.


Teams Need to Commit to “Positive Peer Pressure”

Trust, respect and mutual responsibility for getting the right things done isn’t always easy. When teams share a common Commitment, those difficult situations become a lot more possible.

Accountability, especially peer accountability, is one of the hardest behaviors a team can achieve. Research based on The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team™ assessment shows accountability to be one the behavior where teams consistently score lowest.

If your team can trust that by holding one another accountable with good intentions, both relationships and results will improve, and it will slowly become a natural part of the team dynamic.


What Is Paid Attention to Gets Paid Attention to

These words used to scroll across my computer as a screensaver.

The point was to remind myself that as leader what I paid attention to, what I kept in front of the team, what I highlighted as being important, is also what my team would pay attention to; and more importantly, what they would do.

If you want team members to be accountable to the commitments they have made, those commitments must be kept front and center.

Luckily, as a leader you have a simple tool, one you are probably already using (although perhaps not to its fullest potential).

That tool is your team meeting.

At the start of each meeting, remind team members of the commitment they have made (perhaps it is to implement a new process to improve customer satisfaction; or maybe it is to address the tough topics during meetings).

Then, ask each person to rate the progress made towards that commitment as green (on track); yellow (a little bit behind schedule); or red (off the rails).

For meetings to be an effective accountability tool, you must document and distribute the commitments that team members make at the end of each meeting and then revisit those commitments at the beginning of the next meeting.

It is really that simple yet only the most skilled leaders do this consistently.


A Guide to Consistent Peer Accountability

Keeping commitments in front of the team is just half the accountability battle.

For your team to be fully accountable, team members must be willing to hold each other accountable to the commitments they have made. This is a high bar that yields big results.

Only the most elite teams demonstrate consistent peer accountability.

There are a number of reasons peer accountability is so difficult including:

  • A desire to avoid conflict
  • A fear that if they hold a peer accountable, that peer will then point out their own shortcomings
  • An expectation that accountability is the leader’s job

The biggest reason team members don’t hold each other accountable is simply because they don’t know how.

Holding peers accountable does not come naturally for most of us. We typically have not been trained in doing so, and we rarely see it effectively modeled in the business world.

Here’s the good news. At its most basic level, accountability can be boiled down to asking good questions.

Here are three questions you can ask next time one of your teammates drops their ball:

  • What is getting in the way of you meeting the deadline/delivering on the commitment?
  • What will it take for you to get back on track?
  • How can I support you in doing so?


As a leader, are you struggling with getting your team to hold themselves and each other accountable?

Do you want to build an elite team that consistently exceeds its goals?


I can help.


Let’s schedule a conversation to explore how The Five Behaviors ™ can work for your team.


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