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Leadership: Holding Others to Account

by Duncan Brodie

The role of the leader is to get results. Successful leaders recognise that to get the best results as quickly as they can, they need to draw on the full range of skills, experience and expertise of their team. They empower others to deliver. Most of the time people respond but there will be times when others do not deliver. In some cases this might be a recurring pattern.

Holding people to account is essential to your success as a leader and to the success of the organisation's, teams or departments that you lead. Surprisingly, many leaders find it tough to hold others to account. They avoid it in the hope that things will get better or even worse speak to others about the problems with someone rather than the individual who is struggling to deliver. In my experience there are five main reasons why leaders are not as successful at holding others to account:

1. They don't make their expectations clear

2. Relationships become too comfortable

3. They start focusing on their own position rather than on delivering results

4. They don't want to be seen as the bad guy or girl

5. They don't know how to set up accountability

So what can leaders do to become more effective at holding others to account?

Be clear on expectations

Good leaders take the time to explain to others what results they will be held accountable for, make sure that these are written down and understood by the individual being led.

Make rewards and consequences clear

Be crystal clear about the rewards if the individual delivers the results and the consequences if people do not deliver. The latter is particularly important if someone is struggling.

Give the support and help to succeed

Successful leaders do not set up others to fail. They provide the support and help to maximise the chances of success. That might be through coaching, mentoring, securing resources or acting as a sounding board.

Stay focussed on results

When leaders lose focus on delivering results, they compromise their own and the organisation's future. To avoid this keep focus on the results.

Keep relationships professional

As a leader you want to be approachable, friendly and supportive. At the same time you don't want to get too close when it comes to relationships that it becomes difficult to make tough calls or deliver bad news.

Bottom line -- getting results is what you are paid for. Don't compromise getting results by failing to hold others to account for what they have agreed to deliver.

Duncan Brodie may be contacted at

Duncan Brodie of Goals and Achievements Ltd (G&A) works with individuals, teams and organisations to develop their management and leadership capability. Sign up for his free e-course and monthly newsletter at


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