Accountable Leadership Mark Porter 10 October 2023

Accountable Leadership

In a recent conversation with an executive level leader, they detailed that their organization was having issues with their mid-level managers inability to hold their subordinates accountable. “It’s easier for them to avoid potential confrontation rather than holding the staff responsible to perform their duties”.

My initial inquiries involved understanding the identification/hiring process for leaders, leadership development training, and performance management protocols. The response consisted of

a generic leadership description is used for all management postings, and leadership training is the responsibility of each employee. Negative performance reviews are rare because finding and retaining talented people is difficult.

Where’s the accountability in that philosophy?

As stated in my previous postings, leadership effectiveness and organizational performance is subject to the degree of trust subordinates perceive in their leadership. Employees who trust their leadership become committed followers leading their organization to elevated performance and sustained competitive advantage. Failing to create a culture of accountability reduces trust in leadership, increases uncertainty, stifles team building, hinders innovation, and at best it will maintain the status quo. Status quo equals a failing organization and talent attrition!

It is unrealistic to expect leaders to be effective at attaining organizational success if the business does not identify a profile of attributes for potentially effective leadership candidates, provide leadership development training, and solicit sincere feedback from employees as an assessment of their leader’s performance.

Identifying potentially effective leaders is a critical first step. There is a range of effective psychometric analysis tools available for identifying potentially effective leaders. The most effective tools incorporate assessments of psychological, intellectual, and social capital.

  • Psychological capital: personality and mental abilities
  • Intellectual capital: knowledge/skills via education and experience
  • Social capital: interpersonal abilities interrelated with personal/professional networks

Successful organizations assess and profile the degree of psychological, intellectual, and social capital required for a leader to be successful. Identifying the appropriate candidate based on the defined profile enhances the chance of creating a high-performance culture with committed followers and cohesive teams who outperform their competitors.

High performance cultures are characterized by:
  • Enhanced innovation
  • Reduced uncertainty/complexity
  • Elevated Risk Tolerance
  • Increased accountability
Cohesive organizational teams are characterized by:
  • Synchronicity
  • Shared purpose
  • Goal achievement
  • Accountability

Accountability is preeminent when it is engrained and expected within the culture and among the people. The foundation for accountability is established by leadership, but accountability is most influential when it is enforced by an employee’s peers. Therefore, a culture of accountability, and ultimately sustained competitive advantage is the resultant of successfully identifying talent as potentially effective leaders. Leadership effectiveness should emphasize group performance and followership cohesiveness. Group performance and followership cohesiveness is a by-product of selecting a candidate with the necessary psychological, intellectual, and social capital for the situation. As Lao Tzu stated:

“The good leader is revered, the wicked leader is despised, the great leader: the people say we did it ourselves”. Talent identification/placement is a critical step for establishing the accountability culture required for sustainable competitive advantage.

Soteria Alliance builds high performance work cultures and develops effective leaders!