The 7 Essential Behaviors of Accountable Leaders

If you want your people to be more accountable, start with making changes to your own behavior. When you care for and support the people who report to you, they will thrive and you will see more of the results you’re looking for.

At the end of every quarter, I sit down with my clients for a review. We discuss the benefits they’ve seen from us working together, and the value they get out of the relationship. We also look at what changes they’ve made, and the behaviors they still need to change.

They may not be the first things you (or I) would think of, but each of the following seven behaviors can make a significant difference in how you lead your people and keep them accountable.

Some are on the list because the clients who implement them report such great results. Other behaviors are here because clients have pinpointed one of them as the thing that’s stopping or blocking them from achieving their next level of success.

  1. Experiment and try new things – Complacency is not going to get you where you need to go in this “post-Wall Street fiasco” age. I encourage my clients to make changes, and make it safe for them to fail. As a result, they try new things and get new, better results. How can you do the same thing for your people? How can you get into the habit of trying new things?
  2. Tell the absolute truth, regardless – I’m not calling you a liar. This is about being honest with yourself. Telling the truth includes making sure that your thoughts, words and action (“TWA”) are aligned. When your people can see this integrity in everything you do and say, they will walk through walls for you. If you say one thing and your actions demonstrate another, it puts up walls between you.
  3. Start being early for everything – I could have said, “Don’t be late,” but it’s important to frame our goals in a positive light. In the last 18 months, I’ve worked with many leaders who are so overbooked that they’re never on time for their commitments. When you’re late, you’re missing a big opportunity to set an example for your people. This may mean redesigning how you spend your time. Leaders often tell me they don’t have time to support and develop their people with regularly scheduled accountability meetings, yet people always find the time for what is truly important to them.
  4. Get support to handle your problems – With my clients, sometimes issues rise to the surface that are beyond the scope of our sessions. If this happens with the people who report to you, support them as much as you can, and encourage them to make use of other resources. If you or your people are stressed – physically, mentally or emotionally – it will affect your bottom line and block your progress. Period.
  5. Set goals that are much, much bigger – Raise your personal standards so that you’re reaching for a high level. Then be sure you follow through and complete each mission. Is there a project you started that’s now in “limbo”? Get it done. You’ll feel amazing and it will create momentum that’s contagious.
  6. Treat people much, much better – Some of my clients aren’t treating people well at all, instead they’re taking their crap out on others. I recently heard a suggestion that whenever I approach someone, whether at the checkout counter in the grocery store or in a business meeting, that I consciously bring happiness, joy and laughter to the interaction. Try it the next time the phone rings. Paste a big smile on your face and think about bringing happiness, joy and laughter to whoever is calling.
  7. Keep yourself well – Move more, whether that’s walking, yoga, running or martial arts. Do more things you enjoy, such as reading or listening to your favorite music. Get back to the basics, you know the drill: Eat more fruits and vegetables and less fat and sugar, eliminate caffeine and nicotine, and moderate your alcohol intake. Floss and brush your teeth regularly and take your vitamins. Call someone you love, especially if you haven’t spoken in a l-o-n-g time.

Changing your own behavior in order to create more accountability in your workplace might seem backwards, but it works. I’ve seen it demonstrated time and again in my 17 years of experience. Believe me. Or don’t believe me, but try my suggestions for six months to prove me wrong. If things don’t get better for both you and your bottom line, call me and we’ll talk about it. Better still, call me now and I’ll help you get started.