The Executive Toolbox: Building Team Accountability

Successful teams take accountability for the results they achieve, both as a team and individually. This doesn’t happen accidently. The ability to build accountability with your team and each member of the team is a skill an executive needs to master in order to be successful.

Executives often find it difficult to hold their teams accountable, yet most senior executives and business owners I’ve worked with have no problem accepting accountability for the business results of their organization and, when asked, will candidly admit they expect to be fired, or lose their business, if they don’t meet the business goals.

In examining why executives are reticent about holding their teams and individuals accountable I’ve found executives often don’t feel confident they set the team up to succeed. In order to build that confidence there are some key components that, when put in place, help a team to succeed:

  1. The Goal: A SMART goal that is sustainable, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-based.
  2. Alignment around the Goal and Commitment to its Achievement:  It’s essential that the team be aligned about what they’re trying to achieve and committed to its achievement.
  3. The Plan: The plan needs to include what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and who needs to do it.
  4. Assignment of Accountability: The team needs to agree who is accountable for each component of the plan.
  5. Metrics: There needs to be a core set of metrics or measures in place that show progress against the plan.
  6. The Review Process: There needs to be a process in place to review the progress against the plan so course corrections can be made.
  7. Course Corrections: The wisdom and willingness to make timely mid-course corrections.

With these elements in place much of the ambiguity that can cause problems is removed and the team has a higher probability of success.

Published by Leah Ward-Lee

Leah Ward-Lee, the author of "$1,000 Start-Ups", is a serial micro-entrepreneur. She opened her first business at ten after lobbying for and receiving a shoe shine kit for Christmas. She pulled her wagon through the neighborhood, going door-to-door, offering to shine her neighbor’s shoes for twenty-five cents a pair. Once her wagon was full, she took the shoes home and polished them. Unfortunately that business was short-lived. She hadn’t tagged the shoes and couldn’t remember whose shoes were whose, so her dad went with her to retrace the route until every pair was returned. Since then she’s had businesses developing and teaching college courses, instructing aerobic classes, owning half a plane that was rented to a flight and maintenance school, and renting homes. She’s also owned a consignment store, a gift shop, a gift basket business, a consulting firm, hosted The Executive Toolbox (a weekly radio show), and a publishing company. She also spent twenty years in the US Army, served as the Chief Information and Technical Officer for two major insurance companies, and has a second career as a management consultant. Leah resides in Dallas, TX and on Amelia Island with Sammy and Goliath, her two rescue dogs.


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