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Author: Jerry Olson - May 2015


How Leaders Hold Others ACCOUNTABLE . . .

Leaders take the third and final step in the leadership loop when they HOLD PEOPLE ACCOUNTABLE for meeting expectations.   Leaders do this simply by providing timely and direct FEEDBACK with appropriate rewards or consequences.

Perhaps this sounds like the easiest step in the leadership loop. While this step is uncomplicated, many leaders find it very difficult. It is difficult because it first requires monitoring behaviors and measuring results and it then requires direct, honest, eye-to-eye conversations. Most leaders don’t do this very well. It’s been my observation that the higher a leader is in the organization the less well this work is done.

One reason this is difficult may be that visionary leaders focus on the future much more than the present or past. Leaders are more likely to want to discuss future positive expectations rather than monitor current results and behaviors or talk about past missed expectations. Many leaders are also reluctant to do the tactical work of implementing good monitoring systems and scorecards that give the necessary data to have the conversation.


Effective leaders give timely feedback both informally in brief conversations (read Ken Blanchard’s One Minute Manager Meets The Monkey) and more formally in regularly performance reviews. Leaders then provide appropriate recognition and rewards to reinforce the good behaviors and positive results when expectations are met and exceeded. Good leaders also provide negative consequences when appropriate. Effective leaders never send mixed messages by giving feedback, rewards or consequences that are inconsistent with behaviors and results.

Many complain about the formal performance review. It’s often not done well and is frequently a topic of frustration. The frustrations and pain in this step of the Leadership Loop usually results from a lack of clear expectations, limited observation, little monitoring, inadequate informal feedback, and/or scant documentation. If good monitoring is in place it’s simple to give timely informal feedback. If both the monitoring and informal feedback get documented, then it’s simple to provide a thoughtful and robust formal performance review. Follow this model to reduce the frustrations and make the reviews more effective.

With attention to each step in the Leadership Loop done consistently well, both organizational performance and employee satisfaction will rise.


This is the final piece in a three-part series on the Leadership Loop. Read Part I “How Do Leaders LEAD?” and  Part II “Leaders Manage”.  

Author, Jerry Olson, is an experienced Business Advisor and Human Resources expert, HRCI.  Connect with Jerry and other RFB® Business Development Advisors here, or on LinkedIn.

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