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The Importance of Accountability

A dealer that focuses on accountability will inspire better performance from its employees and better bottom line for its business.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: VITAL holds monthly CI Business Mastery Classes where it addresses important CI business topics via a webinar. Each class is supported by an industry brand. VITAL has agreed to share some of the information from these classes in a monthly column of highlights from its most recent webinar. The twelfth — and final in this series — CI Business Mastery Class was on accountability, and it was supported by DISH. Look for details on the upcoming second Master Class series at the end of this month’s column.]

Accountability in a CI business
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Today we are going to talk about accountability, covering what it really means and contrasting the difference between people who are highly accountable and those who are not. We will also discuss encouraging and holding people accountable in your business, along with action steps to tie it all together.

Accountability is accepting the responsibility and action for one’s job in the company. I’d like to think that most of us want to be accountable and want to work with others who are also being held accountable. We certainly want to be accountable when things are going well and we’re winning. It’s when something goes off the rails or fails that we get squeamish about the word “accountability” and we want to back away from that a bit. However, being responsible for a win is just as important as being responsible for a loss or when something goes wrong.

When people are being highly accountable, they’re demonstrating a high level of responsibility. They think proactively and solve problems, so they improve their chances of being positively accountable for a win. They get to be accountable for that win because they have active accountability along the way. And, when things do go wrong, they don’t blame others and they seek help in fixing the problems.

Accountability builds trust between individuals, teams, and the organization. When people know who’s accountable for what, they can trust their team to execute. Of course, when everyone is delivering on what they promised, you have a high level of integrity, which leads to improved performance. Accountability promotes ownership in one’s role and improves collaboration through less individual posturing and territorialism that often happens when you have a lack of accountability.

All these things lead to more predictable outcomes throughout the organization. Plus, it is the culture of accountability that attracts A players and weeds out the Bs and Cs. A players want to know what’s expected of them, they want to be held accountable, they want to hold others accountable, and they want to know that the other people on their team are reliable and responsible.

Building an Accountable Team

Is accountability in an organization a people problem or a leadership problem? The key here is you must first hold yourself accountable before ever expecting anyone in your company or your team to be held accountable. This goes for any leader in the organization — doesn’t matter if it’s the owner, founder, CEO, president, or project manager — anyone who has direct reports must first hold themselves to that standard.

You must be clear about what you will be holding someone accountable for. Offer constructive feedback along the way and don’t let it fester or build up. You’re all very busy — days, weeks, and months might pass and the steam can build up from your frustration. Make the time to give them feedback along the way. It is so powerful and so critical.

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Make sure when you’re setting these expectations for your team that it is done in a collaborative way. Do it with them as a team or individuals or groups of individuals because, when they are part of creating the goals, they’re bought into those goals and the outcomes that come along with them. When necessary, you must implement consequences for underperformance. The consequences should be known in advance and implemented every time it’s necessary. The tone for accountability is set from the top. If you’re an owner or any other leader in the company, it must start with you.

Do we manage by the carrot or the stick? I believe there’s a case for both. When you do have to implement consequences, or lead by the stick, you need to do it fairly. Apply the same rules across departments and staff. Always do what you say and don’t be a pushover. If you have a consequence, and the consequence is known. It’s important that you execute on that consequence — it will help build trust and it’s critical to maintain a culture of accountability.

Accountability Action Items

The action here for your team is to have your leaders and your mentors share why accountability is such a priority. This is critical — we need to get feedback from our team as to how they feel they are responding to the accountability challenge and the same response from their team members. We want to identify opportunities to empower your team. When a team has decision-making power, they have power over their outcomes. Be sure you and your leaders are in tune enough to be able to challenge the excuses and encourage your employees to bring solutions. I know that’s tough — especially since most of our team is out in the field. Visit your job sites and have your teams visit your job sites. It is important to be in tune so that you can challenge some of the excuses that are likely to come up when accountability comes into play.

Another action item is to always point out when the culture of accountability is successful. This will positively impact the work of the team. We want to be accountable for the wins and accountable for the losses. Have the leaders in your company point out examples of where accountability is improving and look for those wins. Don’t look for perfection — look for the little wins.

This may bring to a close the first set of CI Business Mastery Classes, but stay tuned for next month when we will begin another year of webinars and articles that will cover different business subjects that are vital to CI businesses! To register for the webinars, visit

For more information about the CI Business Mastery Classes and the other services VITAL provides, visit