Don’t Hold People Accountable!

All to often we hear someone say, “You have to hold them accountable.” Or we hear a leader say, “I’m going to hold you accountable.” The truth is that it should never be about holding people accountable. We, as leaders, should be helping people be accountable. There is a big difference between the two.

Accountability is keeping your commitments to people. A commitment takes two people. When you are helping someone be accountable both parties benefit. When you hold someone accountable it’s one-sided. There is a huge difference between these two positions. The end result is different.

“Hold” is an aggressive stand. It’s an in your face position. It’s threatening. And, it’s about you. It is not about them.

When you help someone be accountable they become better in the process. It’s not just about the result. When you help someone be accountable you get a result, but through the experience the person grows.

You can’t help someone be accountable when the values aren’t stated so you default to holding them accountable. Then it’s not about the relationship. It’s not about helping them grow. It’s only about your immediate need and gain. It’s only about the task at hand and that is why it is not long-lasting.

When you help someone, they remember it, and they want to help you. It is positive, contributes to relationships and has long-term positive outflows.

Helping people be accountable helps them grow to learn how to be accountable, want to be accountable and the end result is long-lasting.

When you hold someone, they also remember it, but it is negative and the long-term effect is negative both in the relationship and the desire to help you.

Holding is short-term. Helping is long-term.

Helping someone be accountable starts with a focus on them. The leader has to know the values and the leader needs to teach the values to the people they lead. If you don’t know the values or the values are not identified you cannot help anyone be accountable.

When you care about the person you’re leading you are going to coach them. You want to see them grow to be the best they can be. It really becomes a mindset. It is a way of thinking.

But, it is a 2-way street. I have to want to help you be accountable. You have to be open to be helped to be accountable. This flows from an environment. It’s the leaders responsibility to create this environment.

Helping people be accountable will always position you and your organization for long-term relationship building, long-term development of people and long-term success.


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