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 September 16, 2021   By Living As A Leader


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How Leaders Can Foster IndependenceThe most effective workers know how to hold themselves accountable for results. Because of this skill, they become successful and get promoted to positions of leadership.

That’s when they run into problems.

Being a leader means learning how to move past holding yourself accountable, and learning how to create accountability for others. Here is how leaders can make this crucial shift in mindset to improve accountability.

Reflect on your leadership style

Write down all examples you can think of on the left side of a page how you lead with inspiration. Then on the right side, write down all the examples you can think of for how you hold your team accountable. Look at the page to see if both columns are roughly equal or if there is an obvious imbalance. If you fall more on the inspiration side, you’ll know to work on accountability.

Get comfortable with the uncomfortable

Many leaders choose to avoid difficult conversations. But getting comfortable with uncomfortable conversations takes patience and practice. Set the tone as non-confrontational, and then approach people in a way that acknowledges them, shares their concern, and does not blame. If you set the stage in a non-accusatory, non-personal manner, it changes the dynamic. Having difficult conversations comes with leadership –- so practice getting uncomfortable and it will become easier.   

Focus on facts

Facts foster accountability by helping you be direct about the situation. These are your observations, thoughts, perspectives, insights and background items you know. Understanding and naming the situation helps your team place the emphasis on the situation and behaviors, not the person. This can help make the other person feel less defensive, and focus more on how they can be accountable.

Address the root issue

Holding others accountable doesn’t mean simply scolding them. Rather, it’s addressing and improving a behavior like missing deadlines rather than simply punishing the person. Having the conversation helped uncover the root problems. Often the system itself—and not just the people within it—needed fixing to improve accountability.

As a leader, do you lean more toward holding your team accountable, or inspiring them? When we ask this question in groups, it’s about a 50/50 split. One style isn’t better, but the most effective leaders are balanced. If you find yourself leaning too much on inspiration, bring yourself back into alignment. The best leaders hold themselves accountable –– for helping others stay accountable.


At Living As A Leader, we offer a Leadership Development Series designed to produce leaders that can positively shape the cultural environment, reduce turnover and achieve crucial business initiatives. We do this by providing training, coaching and consulting with a focus on pragmatic communication tools for leaders at all levels of your organization.

For more information, contact Steph Collins at

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