What does a high accountability culture look like? Well, it doesn’t happen overnight; the culture evolves from one person or event to the next. However, one common denominator is that in an accountability culture everyone holds each other accountable for their commitments in a positive and productive manner. 

This type of culture is typically found in high performance teams. Teammates will not let their teammates down, and therefore, they perform creating a culture of high productivity and typically successful outcomes.

As a leader, we need to be aware of accountability gaps. In many cases we are responsible for the gap. I have committed this sin. When assigning a task or a project, I have been at fault for not being clear on expectations, or not being clear on what success looks like when it is completed.

Identifying and communicating metrics are key to overall project/task success, but it’s our job to share those with our team. I’ve also been guilty of not setting clear deadlines, and being vague in my delivery with phrases like, “get this report to me as soon as you can.” That has come back to sting me!

We need to have an awareness of ambiguities when we are assigning tasks, projects, etc. In addition, we can’t allow employees to skate away with vagueness. The result could be failure. Here are some of the biggest offenders from the Glossary of Failure:

  • Soon
  • ASAP
  • Right away
  • I’ll get on it
  • Later
  • Try
  • Should
  • Might

There are three important rules in creating an accountability culture: specificity, specificity, specificity. Here are some examples:

  • What date and time can I follow up with you to close the loop?
  • Who owns it?
  • This is what success looks like——-.
  • Scrub should and might from your vocabulary and replace with “will.”

Hopefully, this will serve as a reminder to check your accountability language as you build a culture of accountability.