Why Accountability Matters


The benefits of working with a Business Adviser or Coach are varied and very personal to each business and its leadership. It can be to fill a knowledge gap, to help with a skills gap, to bounce ideas and decision making off, to provide strategic input or to be a confident for example. But there is one crucial thing they do bring, accountability!

Certainly a good coach or mentor won’t just keep rolling out the same playbook with each and every client, the needs of each business differ as do their cultures, maturity and runways.

There is however one consistent benefit business leaders receive whether they are actually aware of it or not.

The benefit that I’m referring to is “Accountability”.

Why accountability matters so much

Accountable leaders clearly communicate their goals, objectives and key results (OKR’s) to their teams to foster alignment and team focus. They accept responsibility when things go wrong and give credit for success where its due. Accountable leaders effectively assess accountability in their managers and employees too.

A lack of accountability is rarely intentional, more often its the result of an underlying issue such as unclear rolls and responsibilities, limited resources, a poor or lack of strategy, or unrealistic goals.

Low accountability leads to mistrust, which leads to low morale, which leads to employee devaluation, which fosters low engagement and leads to low productivity and results.

Accountability is what keeps plans on track, delivers strategies and produces results.

Signs of Low Accountability

The biggest sign is poor or inconsistent business performance and results. If your business is underperforming then consider that one of the root causes could well be a lack of accountability.

Another common sign that I see as a Business Adviser is in discussion about initiatives or tactics. If I hear comments such as “we tried that and it didn’t work for us” or “we used to do that but it didn’t stick” or ” we did that but don’t anymore” then it quickly begs the question why?

Business leaders who are operationally entrenched in the business, fail to delegate effectively and are time poor so need to pause, reflect and consider if they have an accountability concern in their business.

One of the ways to identify this is to look at the activities that are absorbing time. When reviewing these activities they need to be assessed and categorized into either important or urgent!

Businesses are always under pressure to react. They need to react to customers, to their market, to macro factors such as the economy, legislation, technology advances, to problem solving etc.

Its when these reactions become the norm that many business leaders find themselves falling into the trap of focusing on the urgent rather than the important. Without either the tools, shareholders or board governance to ask the searching questions required to bring the focus back onto the important activity, these leaders find themselves trapped in the muck and the bullets of daily operations and fire fighting.

The role of the Business Adviser

An effective Business Adviser will provide leaders with the accountability required to bring focus back onto the activity that is important for the business. They ask the right questions that shine the light back on the important priorities or actions for the business.

This is just the start though. Once the priorities or activities are identified a good Business Adviser will then hold the leader accountable to progress against these priorities through monthly reviews providing both support & challenge.

The business leaders then start to hold themselves accountable to making progress and delivering the important activities before the next visit or contact with the professional support they have engaged and are paying for.

The adviser has to keep using the important priorities as the anchor points and ensuring that these get the majority focus, resource allocation & investment. This is the number 1 reason that Business Advisers/Coaches or Mentors deliver results!

The tools, methodologies and skills gap they provide vary, just as much as their individual styles and approaches, The one consistent thing we all offer is the provision of accountability even if the application of it differs.