Articles Embracing Responsibility: Cultivating Leader Accountability in the Workplace

Embracing Responsibility: Cultivating Leader Accountability in the Workplace

Bitrix24 Team
13 min
Updated: May 27, 2024
Bitrix24 Team
Updated: May 27, 2024
Embracing Responsibility: Cultivating Leader Accountability in the Workplace

What does it take for a company to survive and thrive in the market and industry it belongs to? There’s no secret ingredient. It’s all about trust. As a business leader, it’s when your employees, clients, customers, and contemporaries treat you with respect and hold you in high esteem. Trust is built by having leader accountability. However, what does being accountable mean?

Accountability is a skill that requires regular practice to maintain. Without a routine, this skill can diminish and eventually be forgotten. Whether you're just starting out and curious about what it means to be an accountable leader, a small business owner aiming to become a great leader, or a seasoned business professional seeking to regain control of a renegade organization, this article will illuminate the facets of accountability for you. Here are some of the best ways to establish, uphold, and promote accountability in the workplace.

Role of leaders in accountability and building accountable teams

When you were younger, you had to watch your parents, relatives, and teachers closely to learn how to do things. There’s a lot of dialogue involved, along with some showing and telling. Then, you’re set off to try and do it all on your own. It’s very much like learning how to ride a bike. There’s a lot of pep talk, and then the training wheels come off. Sometimes you cruise on, and other times, you fall.

Leader accountability means showing your team how it’s done and taking the time to demonstrate and explain every little detail that counts. Then, step back and watch them from a distance as they attempt to follow your example. They can be successful on the first try, or they can fail. Your job as a leader is to encourage them to try again by figuring out how and where they should make changes and how.

The role of leaders in inspiring their teams to have a sense of accountability on the job is to do just that – have accountability. You’re the first and last stop for every action, milestone, and challenge. Everything they learn on the subject comes from you: your words and deeds. Why is being accountable important, you ask? It’s a big task and a lot to take on but if done right, you’re guaranteed to produce exceptional leaders for the future. On top of it all, your company will prosper, and your brand will be known for unmatched quality.

Why is accountability important as a leader?

As an effective leader, you want to steer your team towards the completion of a common goal in the form of a project or a project proposal to win over a client and the like. This is only possible if you have accountability in your team. This, they learn from you. Once you decide to show your teams how leadership responsibility and accountability are applied in daily work life, they’ll follow suit.

If your employees do not have a sense of accountability at work, they will go on feeling as though they’re not responsible for anything and therefore won’t have to fear the consequences of their actions. On the other hand, if there is leadership accountability, there is accountability within the team which promotes a culture of trust and respect among peers and with their superiors.

Remember that as a company figurehead, people will always have eyes on you. Whether anyone’s aware of it or not, they’ll soon begin to mimic your actions, how you deal with people and situations, and the language you use.

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How to improve accountability as a leader

Let’s say you do not have the best track record as a leader and noticed that things are slowly but surely getting out of hand, it’s probably a good bet that the time to get back to basics has come. Use these workplace accountability strategies and watch the magic happen for your teams!

1. Create a safe space for employees

Yes, there should be a separation between personal and professional life. But if you want to encourage your employees to ask questions, seek clarification, and contribute to the conversation, they need to feel secure. Free from judgment, ridicule, and bullying. Create a workplace culture and atmosphere where the sharing of ideas, opinions, and proper dialogue is not only invited but applied at all times.

When having meetings or brainstorming sessions, give each team member the chance to speak their mind on the subject. On the production floor, don’t hesitate to approach them one by one for a bit of small talk or you can ask them for their recommendations on things. Tailor your approach to the person and be mindful of your word choice and your actions so as not to offend or put anyone off.

Coax even the shiest, most introverted person in your workforce into a conversation. Foster a culture of acceptance, openness, and truthfulness as part of leader accountability. Regardless of how high-pressure your jobs may be, you’ll find that this relieves the stress and makes the atmosphere at work more safe.

2. Set clear expectations and get their buy-in

There’s no way one can get off to a good start without a clear path to a goal or target. Include setting expectations as part of your list of leader accountability. Your employees need to know what they’re working towards and what they should be aiming for. The conversation should also include the consequences should they fail to meet said expectations, targets, and goals. Lastly, call their attention to the rewards that await them. What’s in it for them? There has to be an incentive that they can look forward to and motivate them to perform at top quality.

The foundation for getting any amount of work done is setting clear expectations before anything else. If you have a big project or important client, be sure to set aside time to meet with your team members for this activity. Letting them know what is expected of them early on is the best way to imbue a sense of accountability in your team. Communicate this clearly with them by going through the project plan step by step, highlighting their role and functions within the group. Get the conversation documented while it is ongoing, and once you’re finished, get them to sign the meeting notes. This is their buy-in, a sign that they accept and are more than willing to conquer the challenge set before them.

Embracing Responsibility: Cultivating Leader Accountability in the Workplace

3. Provide feedback and regular coaching

Another way to cultivate leader accountability is to provide your team members with feedback and regular coaching. We all like to know how we’re doing while we’re on the job, right? It matters that your employees know if they’re doing the right thing, on the path to success, or in need of recalibration, so to speak. As their leader, it is your job to lead through feedback and coaching sessions. It should be easier, especially after you’ve given them a safe space and set expectations.

There are a lot of coaching strategies that you can employ, but the best way to go about things is to remember the following steps:

  • Choose the proper venue, time, and date – You and your coachee or mentee should be in the proper headspace and temperament for a talk

  • Establish mutual trust – It should feel like a regular check-in and not an admonition (even if it is)

  • Focus on the topic instead of the person – Resist the urge to digress. Keep the discussion to the point.

  • Stick to the facts – Don’t let your brain or mouth run away from you. Abide by your list of points to talk about.

  • Be clear and seek clarity when needed – Use language that is easy to understand. Don’t overwhelm your coachee with information, and invite them to ask questions.

  • Balance the positive with the negative – You can start with the areas for improvement and end on a good note by going over the good things they did.

  • Plot a course of action – Whether you need them to keep doing a good job or change something in their approach to the job, it helps if you can give them actionable recommendations and suggestions.

  • Set a follow-up – This is if you do not yet have a set weekly coaching schedule. Let them know that you’ll be checking on their progress concerning the course of action you set with them.

Show your people that your meetings with them are a priority by plotting your check-ins in your shared calendars and sending them reminders beforehand. Shut out all distractions when you sit down with them and give them your undivided attention.

You can use templated coaching logs or feedback forms. If you do not have one, it’s a great idea to get one made. Then, once each session is done, you can file the completed coaching form in a central team drive for future reference.

4. Empower your team to be accountable

If you perceive a lack of proactivity, make it a goal of yours in leader accountability to empower your team. Sometimes it could be because they lack confidence, knowledge, or authority. Whatever the stumbling block may be, take steps to remove them. Cultivate an environment wherein your employees feel brave to make decisions, solve problems, and come up with their solutions because they know you have their backs.

You can begin by getting them to participate in every stage of a project, for example. Ask them for their input. Show them that you respect their resolve and how they approach certain things. Let them know that you value their opinion. Do they have any ideas as to how to approach the client best? How about the execution of the project plan? You may be surprised at what you can gather from a brainstorming session. Different people can bring different sets of abilities, skills, and knowledge to the table.

Embracing Responsibility: Cultivating Leader Accountability in the Workplace

For a clearer picture, here are some of how you can empower your team:

  • Leverage their strengths—Get to know each team member and use their strengths to your advantage by pairing them with tasks or projects that they’ll do well in.

  • Challenge them to push their boundaries – It’s cushy to settle once you’ve found your comfort zone. It’s so much more worth it to challenge your employees to think outside of the box and come up with innovative solutions.

  • Arm them with knowledge—Knowledge has so much power, and the best way to enable your team to be accountable is to give them the facts, information, and skills to get the job done. Start a knowledge base and fill it with anything and everything they need.

  • Give them your vote of confidence – You know what else gives employees confidence? It’s when they know their leaders have confidence in their abilities.

  • Back them up—Let’s say a customer is unhappy because one team member of yours followed protocol, and their answers or resolutions were deemed unsatisfactory. As the leader and knowing that your staff stuck to the SOP, what can you do to empower them? Back them up. Echo their solutions or reasoning to the customer. You can give the customer an incentive to appease them but uphold your team’s word.

  • Empathize – You cannot expect your employees to find value in empathy if they haven’t been on the receiving end. It’s never easy to look beyond the present situation to understand the other person, but it’s a valuable skill nonetheless, one that will be powerful if they learn it from you.

The goal is to empower your team to take control of situations and be accountable for each decision that they have to make. Make them feel good about themselves and strong in skills, knowledge and

5. Encourage collaboration and peer-to-peer accountability

Innovative, revolutionary, and creative solutions are produced through collaboration. Nurture collaboration as one of your leader accountability strategies. Break your larger team up into duos or threesomes and give them tasks to complete for the entire project. Pair up people who are assigned to related tasks and subtasks. Let the mini teams have discussions and deliberations about the outcome of their contributions to the project. If they feel involved in the bigger team, they feel connected to the rest of the company. Taking accountability would not be such a challenge.

You can also assign each person to be accountable for the other. There’s no better way to allow trust, respect, and commitment to grow than when you give your people the task of checking in on their colleagues and being equally responsible for their output. As soon as you do this, you can watch the quality of the work skyrocket. People being responsible for another person means you are never out of someone looking out for the rest of your team.

6. Practice open door policy at all times

One thing that derails the progress of any project and negatively affects the quality of the work is the lack of communication. You’re doing your company a great disservice if the channels are not configured correctly or if you and your team are not doing the most to communicate with each other appropriately. Leader accountability includes being able to communicate with anyone. It’s the one thing that keeps ideas fresh, innovation free-flowing, and people in the workplace happier overall. When you stop talking, it’s as good as filing for bankruptcy because there’s no way any business can survive.

All talk does not have to be about the job at hand. Keep things fun and light. Not comfortable making small talk? Desensitize yourself by indulging in a little bit of small talk here and there. Show your staff that the boss is not above all that. Once you start with the lighthearted conversations, the weightier discussions are easier to get started because you already have a level of comfort established with each other. You can bet no one is going to get offended, and you’ll get a lot of back and forth.

Remember to keep the actual door of your office open at all times as well. There may be people in your team who are more comfortable with one-on-one touch-base sessions. Encourage them to come in and take a seat, whatever it may be that’s bugging them. Invest in communication channels as well – for customers, employees, and clients alike – whether it’s email, instant messaging, or video conferencing. Knowing they can reach you anytime and any way they need to will take the pressure off of having to open up.

Embracing Responsibility: Cultivating Leader Accountability in the Workplace

7. Reward in public and reprimand in private

The best way to galvanize your team to take accountability on the job is to reward exceptional results. When people see that they have something to look forward to, like the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, they’re more likely to step up to the plate. It doesn’t even have to be a grand big prize, either. Paid dinner, company swag, paid time off – anything that sets them apart and distinguishes them from the rest will be highly appreciated.

On the other hand, corrections should be made privately. Resist the urge to give someone a dressing down given everybody else. Whatever infraction they may have committed, don’t come out of the gate with your voice high, eyes blazing, and words unchecked. Don’t let your temper cloud your professionalism. Summarize what happened, give them your viewpoint, and then agree on a middle ground – the changes they need to make moving forward. This is the time when they need your leader's accountability. Don’t let them down.

Cultivate leader accountability with the right tools

Leader accountability involves training future leaders to be accountable, proactive, and efficient. It requires leaders to set clear expectations, model the behavior they expect to see, and hold themselves and others responsible for their actions and outcomes. This not only promotes a transparent and trust-filled environment but also ensures that everyone understands their roles and the standards to which they are held.

Having the right tools is essential to accomplish these objectives effectively. The good news is that you don’t need to shop around for these tools—Bitrix24 has you covered!

Bitrix24 is built with a complete arsenal of tools for enhancing leader accountability. This all-in-one platform supports embracing responsibility and cultivating leadership accountability in the workplace. With task, project, and time management solutions, communication tools, knowledge management, calendars, a powerful HR system, and even CRM, Bitrix24 is equipped to surprise you. Sign up today and discover all you can achieve.

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Bitrix24 is a place where everyone can communicate, collaborate, and manage daily activities. Performance, activity, and responsibility tracking is included.

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What does accountability mean in a leadership context?

Accountability in a leadership context means leaders:

  • Hold themselves responsible for their actions

  • Are always willing to face the consequence

  • Take responsibility for the company’s successes and failures

  • Never pass on the blame

  • Take the reins to get the job done

  • Demonstrate what accountability means

How can leaders inspire accountability in their teams?

Leaders can inspire accountability in their teams by:

  • Leading by example

  • Owning up to mistakes

  • Setting, managing, and meeting expectations

  • Practicing transparency

  • Praising in public and correcting in private

  • Communicating openly

What are common challenges in fostering accountability and how can leaders overcome them?

The common challenges in fostering accountability and how leaders can overcome them are:

  • Resistance: Leaders can mitigate resistance by clearly communicating the importance of accountability and its benefits to everyone

  • Passing the Blame: By coaching and showing empathy, leaders can encourage a culture where individuals accept responsibility instead of shifting the blame

  • Failed Expectations: Leaders should identify and address the root causes of failures, adjusting strategies or support as needed

  • Underperformance: A Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) provides clear goals and support to help underperforming employees meet expectations

  • Closed off or Withdrawn: Regular one-on-one meetings can help leaders engage with withdrawn employees, fostering openness and accountability

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Table of Content
Role of leaders in accountability and building accountable teams Why is accountability important as a leader? How to improve accountability as a leader 1. Create a safe space for employees 2. Set clear expectations and get their buy-in 3. Provide feedback and regular coaching 4. Empower your team to be accountable 5. Encourage collaboration and peer-to-peer accountability 6. Practice open door policy at all times 7. Reward in public and reprimand in private Cultivate leader accountability with the right tools FAQs
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