Leadership Accountability, Transparency and Engagement

DG-accoutability_pt2Before you decide that accountability is “nothing new” and that in your organization, you already have accountability systems in place, take this opportunity to determine whether they work or have ceased to be effective. Recent research can guide you on what works—and what doesn’t. Are you, perhaps, too slow to adapt or irrationally clinging to outmoded approaches?


Ask any manager about ‘accountability,’ and he or she will tell you that it’s a great thing to have. Ask them how to get it, however, and the long answers begin.” –

      Management consultant Donald Brookes, “Who’s Accountable for Accountability?”

Canadian Manager,

    Summer 1992

In 21st-century business, the public vocally demands rigorous attention to moral and ethical accountability, and leaders’ actions must be more transparent. Accountability starts at the top, with an executive team that fully commits to worthy goals and objectives and meets them. In the work I do with leaders, the issue of accountability comes up repeatedly. With transparency, leaders engage their workforce to implement, support and be accountable for corporate actions.

Employee accountability is required for engagement, and vice versa. The highest motivation is intrinsic: tapping into people’s strengths and interests, while allowing a certain degree of autonomy. Rewards needn’t always be monetary; often, simple recognition stimulates engagement. Most people work better when they know someone cares and is interested in them, so never underestimate the power of a good conversation and active listening.

Motivate employees to be accountable by learning what they value most. Revisit this issue at least once a year to determine whether what worked in the past works now.

Three Levels of Accountability

Three levels of responsibility and accountability come into play each day: personal, interpersonal and organizational.

Leadership consultants John Blakey and Ian Day offer the following pyramid in Challenging Coaching: Going Beyond Traditional Coaching to Face the FACTS
(Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 2012):




What do you think about this pyramid to describe three levels of accountability? Does it make sense to you, and can you see how it would be useful when discussing how accountability is handled in your organization?

I’d love to hear from you,
leave a comment.


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