5 Accountability Practices that Guarantee Teams Row Together

Rowing together is never an accident.

The secret to rowing together is shared accountability.

Accountability brings reality to responsibility. Your work isn’t important if deliverables don’t matter.

Energy is low when teams don’t pull together. Participants complain and brag to puff themselves up.

Accountability is for people who row together. Image of a blue row boat.

Accountability practices for teams:

#1. Clarify expectations in meetings.

Accountability is fantasy when deliverables are unclear. Establish accountability between team members by clarifying deliverables with five words, “Who does what by when?”

  1. Ask everyone to declare what they must get done this week.
  2. Make conversations about performance normal. When people declare something they must get done, everyone at the table is authorized to ask about it.
  3. Include growth and development when discussing expectations.

#2. Track progress in meetings.

Ask, “What do you need to complete this week to be on target for your long-term goal?”

Use milestones to create regular celebration points. Don’t wait to celebrate until a 6-month project is complete. Honor progress along the way.

#3. Give feedback in meetings.

Feedback enables accountability. Make it normal to talk about each other’s performance. Don’t wait until poor performance gets painful to discuss it.

  1. Discuss actual performance compared to promised deliverables.
  2. Don’t ask “why” someone fell short. “Why” questions invite excuses.
  3. Ask what needs to change for a person to meet their own goals.
Get comfortable being held accountable if you want to get ahead. Image of a dog's eyes.

#4. Challenge each other in meetings.

Promote forward movement by challenging each other to come up with new approaches.

Create positive challenge by offering support during setbacks.

#5. Discuss potential roadblocks in meetings.

What could happen to prevent you from meeting your deliverables? What would you like to do about that?

Work together to make work easier for each other. Ask, “What can we do to make each other’s jobs easier?”

Bonus: Establish accountability partners.

Pair up for encouragement and improvement.

What helps teams pull together?

Still curious:

3 Principles to Upgrade Your Leadership with Compassionate Accountability

How Accountability Stops Chinese Water Torture

“Truly great book. A concise account of honesty, humility, and congruence. These are the best gifts this book offers to readers!” Reader’s comment after finishing our new book, The Vagrant: The Inner Journey of Leadership.

Order The Vagrant:


Barnes & Noble