How to Build Teams that Follow-Up and Follow-Through

Accountability is a dirty word because it begins in the wrong place. Leaders wrongly think accountability begins with others.

What do you call someone who bulldozes people into compliance? The nice word is jerk.

The belief that accountability begins with others is heavy-handed. In the end, it deflates rather than energizes.

Like everything else in leadership, accountability begins with you.


Assume people want to succeed. Eject everyone who doesn’t care about doing well. But before you remove someone, you might…

  1. Redesign their job to suit their strengths.
  2. Retrain them to meet expectations.
  3. Reassign them to a job that aligns with their temperament.


When accountability is bulldozing reluctant people into compliance, leaders…

#1. Develop negative attitudes toward people. You can’t bring out the best when you think the worst.

#2. Adopt strategies that manipulate rather than motivate.

Unhealthy competition is an example of destructive manipulation. Teams don’t thrive when they hope the person beside them fails.

When accountability is bulldozing reluctant people into compliance, team members…

#1. Get creative at obfuscation.

#2. Feel disrespected.

Don’t expect performance from people you belittle.

#3. Develop resistance.

Pushed people push back.

7 accountability questions for leaders:

Hold yourself accountable when talented people don’t perform.

  1. What three things are you doing that hinders team performance?
  2. List three ways you might demotivate people.
  3. How clear are expectations? (Ask team members to rate this on a scale of 1:5)
  4. What are the top three strengths of everyone on your team?
  5. How were others engaged in setting goals and expectations?
  6. How were timelines and deadlines established?
  7. How much of your action plan was a team effort? (1:5)

How many times a day are you asking, “How can I help?”


How is progress tracked and measured?

Inconsistent tracking and measurement discourages people who want to succeed.

How might leaders misunderstand accountability?

What comes to mind when accountability begins with leadership, not others?