Coaching employees, especially those who are underperforming, is often critical as a leader. Everyone seems to understand the importance of accountability, but does anyone know what we’re talking about? As a boss or leader, do you consider yourself accountable to others?

Accountability isn’t just a throwaway term that some people tend to use, but is rather critical aspect of being a leader.

There are generally four key things to keep in mind here:

  • What you are accountable for
  • How you are evaluated
  • Awareness of your own actions
  • Building accountability around you

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These form a sort of template to explain what we mean by accountability and what factors must be in place before we can even measure it.

What you are accountable for

The first component of accountability is understanding what you are accountable for. You have to establish goals and then make sure you have a system in place to measure whether you reach them. These should be identifiable outcomes that are easily understand and visible.

Be clear on what you need to achieve as a boss or leader and make that known to your team and company. This gives you clear goals to attain, as well as shows that you are responsible for tangible outcomes.

How you are evaluated

If someone is going to be held accountable, they should expect someone to evaluate their progress toward their measurable outcomes. In some cases, this can be a source of contention. Often times, leaders can be uncomfortable with the prospect of being evaluated.

Assume your goals are revenue targets or team retention. Make sure there is someone to check in on you and measure your success over time.

Awareness of your own actions

What someone does when no one else is looking is one of my favorite definitions of how to measure integrity. However, as a leader, you must be aware that you are constantly being scrutinized to ensure that you are walking the walk and not just talking the talk.

Though you may own the company or run the team, it doesn’t put you above others. Actions and the impact of those actions trickle downwards. Often times, your team wants to see that you are living up to the expectations you have set for yourself and the rest of the organization.

Building accountability around you

The fourth component in establishing and understanding accountability is the requirement for social presence or ensuring there are people around you who will hold you accountable. True, many of us are born with the ability to hold ourselves accountable to our goals and objectives. However, keeping someone accountable in a business often means being willing to be accountable to those you work with.

This goes beyond business as well and is even relevant when you’re at home with your family. Having someone else to hold you accountable can help motivate you to achieve your personal goals.

Can you teach accountability?

It might be possible, but requires a leader to have an open mind. It is possible to use these elements to help define and understand how accountability looks like to you, as well as your business.

This isn’t an overnight solution though. Changing mindsets and building habits take time – so embarking on this journey is the first step.