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How to Master Accountability in your High-Performance Team

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been walking you through Patrick Lencioni’s Five Behaviours model, outlined in his book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team”.

First, we showcased Trust – the foundation stone of the model and a fundamental behaviour in high-performing team. Then, we outlined Conflict (more specifically Healthy Conflict) and the huge value created when an environment of healthy debate and discussion is encouraged. Last week we introduced the third behaviour, Commitment. You’ll remember that commitment requires both clarity and buy-in, not simply gaining consensus.

Today, we explore the fourth behaviour in Lencioni’s model – Accountability

Lencioni is quick to say that accountability is not a stick to beat people with, but more about a personal commitment to achieving team goals. It’s about creating a culture where individuals not only take responsibility for their own actions but are actively engaged in ensuring the success of the entire team.

Developing a culture of accountability within teams creates endless benefits:

Increased Trust:

When team members hold themselves and others accountable, it builds what’s termed ‘predictable trust’. Transparency about individual responsibilities and a commitment to meeting them contributes to reducing tensions within a team, as members feel reassured that they can rely on each other.

Improved Team Dynamics:

When fostering a sense of shared responsibility, team members are more likely to collaborate effectively. It’s less about personal interest and more about a commitment to team success. Team dynamics and cohesion are strengthened around accountability.

Higher Levels of Commitment:

When held accountable for contributions, team members immediately sign up to having ‘skin in the game’ i.e there are personal and professional consequences. Rather than be viewed as punitive, the team themselves have signed up to these accountable consequences (good or otherwise). Accountability ensures that everyone is on board with the decisions and strategies set by the team.

Greater Individual and Team Performance:

When team members know that their efforts are being monitored as a whole (by a trusting and supportive group) and that they’re responsible for specific outcomes, it motivates both individuals and teams to perform at their very best.

Enhanced Problem-Solving:

Accountability encourages a proactive approach to taking ownership of issues, and to work collaboratively to find solutions. This proactive problem-solving mindset contributes to a more agile and resilient team.

Clearer Communication:

Clarity and openness are the hallmarks of an accountable team, with team members communicating about their progress, challenges, and needs. This transparency ensures that everyone is well-informed and aligned.

Achievement of Results:

Ultimately, accountability drives results. Teams that embrace accountability are better positioned to meet goals and deliver tangible outcomes. Accountability consistently ensures that actions are aligned with desired results.

Positive Organisational Culture:

Accountability contributes to the development of a positive organisational culture that embraces responsibility, integrity, and continuous improvement. This positive culture, in turn, attracts and retains top talent.

Accountability, in Lencioni’s world, is not a solitary journey but a team sport. It’s about fostering a sense of shared responsibility that propels everyone toward success.

So, whether you’re a team leader, a team member, or somewhere in between, you would be well-advised to take a page from Lencioni’s book and let accountability be the wind in your team’s sails. You might find that accountability becomes not just a performance management phrase, but a transformative force that has the power to elevate your teams from ordinary to extraordinary.

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