lead with accountability

Accountability: Does Anyone Know What It Means?

by Sep 20, 2022Culture, Delegation, Leadership

Coaching Accountability

Coaching employees is critical if you are a leader.  Coaching employees that are underperforming is essential. Everyone seems to understand that accountability is essential at every level in an organization, but does anyone know what we’re talking about?

A relatively straightforward template is defined by four elements–identifiable outcome, evaluation, awareness, and social presence. We can use these elements to explain what we mean by accountability and what factors need to be in place for us even to measure it in the first place.

Let’s dig into these elements to understand how they can better help you define and measure accountability, especially in leadership coaching.


1. Identifiable Outcome

The first element of accountability is to know what you are being held accountable for. You need to have an established set of goals that are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Another good way to understand if you have an identifiable outcome is to ask if you brought in a third party. Would they be able to immediately understand what the person being coached was being held accountable for? If it’s murky, it’s time to clear any misconceptions up.


2. Expectation of Evaluation

If someone is going to be held accountable, they need to expect someone to evaluate them on their progress toward their identifiable outcomes. This can be a sticking point in some cases. Maybe when you’re coaching employees they don’t like the idea that they will be evaluated. Let’s say that your job description says that you need to be in the office by 9 a.m. You should expect someone to check on you to see if you are accountable for showing up at that time.


3. Awareness

One of my favorite definitions of integrity is what someone does when no one else is watching. But as a leader, you must be aware that you are constantly being watched to see if you are walking the walk and not just talking the talk. I’ve written before about how everything you do as a leader is monitored by those who work for you: who you talk to, where you eat lunch, and when you leave the office. They want to see that you are operating under the same standards for accountability that you set for them and the rest of the organization.


4. Social Presence

The fourth element in establishing and understanding accountability is the need for social presence–what we might call peer pressure. Sure, many of us have the innate capability to hold ourselves accountable to goals and objectives. But when it comes to keeping someone responsible in a business, that often means being willing to be accountable to those you work with. The same can be true when you’re at home with your family. Having someone else to monitor one’s accountability can go a long way to helping motivate you toward fulfilling your personal goals.



So, when you are coaching employees in accountability, go deeper. Use these elements to help define what you mean and how you plan to describe it better in terms of identifiable goals, expectations of observation, awareness, and social presence.

If you can do this, you’ll vastly increase your chances of coaching employees up to higher performance levels.