A Leader’s Dream: The Culture of Accountability

Once you embrace the role of Leader, you find there are fewer and fewer people who are comfortable being responsible. I spoke last week for the Manhattan, KS Chamber of Commerce. During the morning presentation, I asked a group of business owners and managers, “What’s the biggest frustration you face in your role?” The answers bore a common theme: 

  • “Getting my team to do what they agreed to do.”
  • “Accepting responsibility for tasks.”
  • “Being accountable for results.”


Managers are often frustrated by the lack of accountability within their team, choosing frustration over action: 

  • You can grow frustrated with the team and just do things yourself. While going solo, you’ll likely grow more frustrated, passive-aggressive, or sullen. The team may fall into disfunction, and you will still fail to make progress.
  • You can become over-controlling and determined to get your result. You may bypass the process and become the “relentless pressure” through threats, arguments, or punishment. 
  • Out of frustration, you may second-guess the change you want, ultimately deciding it’s not worth it and settling for the status quo. 
  • Failing to accept responsibility, you may blame others in the process and abandon the effort, saying, “It’s not my problem.” This feels good because if no one else cares, why should you?


There is a better way. Simply commit to Gentle Pressure Relentlessly Applied. That is, you intentionally set expectations and then you follow up!


As you’re reading this, I bet you think this is extraordinarily simple. You’re right. Still, I see the lack of follow-up as one of the major failings in management, sales, and relationships. What causes us not to follow up?

  • Fear. We may be afraid of the possibility of a confrontation. No one likes that.
  • Lack of confidence. Are you second-guessing yourself, asking, is this project really that important?
  • Poor time management. Perhaps you forgot the deadline and failed to create any reminders.
  • Concern about micromanaging. You likely don’t want to be annoying and become known as “that boss.”


I could probably expand this list, but I’ll stop here. Whatever your perceived obstacle, failing to follow up will mean failing to lead. This starts with you. It’s time to build your new leadership muscles. Commit yourself to creating a Culture of Accountability, wherein you—and your team—make promises to each other, follow up regularly, and keep those promises. Changing a company culture from irresponsibility to accountability will be no small task. This requires vision, determination, a process, and courage. 


If you look in a thesaurus for alternatives to “follow up,” you’ll see a theme; inquire, inspect, investigate. That prefix “in” is quite interesting. It shows up in some other common places: inspire, inject, initiate, etc. In all of these cases, someone is creating the action. Someone is beginning the process. Someone brings force or movement. 


That’s right, this is where the Gentle Pressure is Applied. In a change initiative, this is particularly crucial. The culmination of the entire process is when you apply it. You do so when you follow up on your expectations. The result? A Culture of Accountability.


Be sure to get your copy of the Gentle Pressure Checklist to make certain you’re doing everything you can to ensure results. Let us know how it’s going!


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