Conversations we dread – holding people accountable


Holding people accountable.
Five excuses – and benefits if you do it anyway.


1. “There is no need to correct them. They will learn from their mistakes and work on improving themselves without me telling them what to do.”

By holding your people accountable you are sending out a clear signal, that it matters what they do. If you don’t correct mistakes and unhelpful behaviour, your people will assume that they are doing a great job even if that’s not the case.


2. “I want to avoid micro managing.”

If you give them responsibility for an outcome you’ve agreed upon and leeway to work on a task/problem depending on their knowledge, skills and expertise, accountability can become a great experience for everybody involved: It is about mutual respect, communication and constructive problem solving.


3. “They are just troublemakers. They don’t want to do a good job.”

If you hold them accountable, you will find out if more training / coaching is needed or if there really is an attitude problem. In either case, you need to do something about it.


4. “It will make it worse because I feel so uncomfortable that I will become emotional and stressed out.”

If you hold your people accountable on a regular basis, it does become easier with practice. You will never feel totally comfortable with holding people accountable, but you need to do it anyway. Emotions are normal and even helpful, if you express them in a constructive way. They show others that you really care and that it matters if they accomplish a task or not.


5. “I can’t force them to take accountability. In our organisation, even senior managers blame others for their own mistakes”.

At the end of the day taking over responsibility for a task is a personal choice and you can’t make people do it. However, with your integrity and influence, you can create a positive ripple effect, a culture without blaming and penchant for scapegoating in which your people are so committed that they feel accountable by their own choice.



“If there’s one key leadership lesson to be learned
when people let you down, it is this:

Keep your word and hold others accountable to theirs. Period.”
– Margie Warrell


Courageous and tough conversations on accountability are hard work and catapult you out of your comfort zone. If you don’t have them, you will become part of the problem. You are a role model as a manager and leader. You can create a positive ripple effect in your organisation.

Whatever you do, holding people accountable
starts and ends with your own commitment and your integrity.


What is your most likely excuse for not holding other people accountable?
What would help you to do it anyway?

Any conversation(s) you want to have today?

Feel free to leave a  comment of any tips, questions and ideas you have.


© Text: Jutta Nedden, Lead & Connect, 10/2017

Image credits:
1. via
2. Tim Ruffles,


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