How to Create an Accountable, High-Performance Culture

Last week, we challenged you to think about the importance of creating deeper connections with your people and those you work with to achieve collective success.

This week we want you to think about what it takes to create an accountable and high-performance culture where people take 100% ownership of their commitments and deliverables.  

Imagine if everyone in the company understood what was expected of them, goals and objectives were clearly defined, and everyone had all the necessary tools, resources, and support to deliver. That’s what makes a high-performing organization.

Based on my own experience working with thousands of leaders and frontline teams in a variety of industries throughout the world, where most leaders fail is two-fold:

1) Being clear about what their expectations are of others, and

2) Providing the necessary support so their people can deliver on their goals, objectives, and overall accountabilities.  

Did you notice with the second area I did not call out tools and resources and solely focused on support?

That was intentional as most companies do a relatively decent job in this area, and where leaders do not spend enough time is ensuring that they themselves are providing the necessary support that is critical to supporting their team’s success. 

Defining goals and objectives is the easy part and most mature organizations do a good job determining what needs to happen to achieve or exceed the bottom-line results they expect. 

Now for the not-so-good part. 

Leaders often assume their expectations are understood without communicating the more minute details and direction needed to complete. Bypassing this important step means the fault lies with the leader. If work returned is not up to par, the leader must look first to themselves to see where they may have dropped the ball.

Let’s explore what you can do differently or more of, to create a culture of accountability and high-performance.

Set Clear and Specific Expectations With Each Other 

In the business world, what we mean by expectations is being specific about:

  • How you prefer to work with others
  • What your communication preferences are
  • What your working style is, e.g. how do you like to make things happen?
  • How you want to be treated and be interacted with on an ongoing basis, and how will you treat others

In our personal lives, successful relationships are built on understanding each other’s needs and expectations of one another – really dialing into what each person needs to feel safe and appreciated.  

Why are expectations important in the workplace? It’s simple – setting clear and realistic expectations will ensure your employees are focused. This prevents them from getting off track, and will ensure that they produce better outcomes because they are focused on the right things.

Take the time to talk about your expectations with your people and create that safe space so they feel comfortable sharing what they expect from you as their leader. Successful leaders coach and support their people based on what the employee needs, not what the leader prefers.

Provide Them with the Support They Need   

This is an interesting topic and one that I raise regularly with the leaders that we engage with. I will often ask the question in my discussions: “How do you know you're giving your people what they need to perform at their best?”

Sometimes, I hear amazing insights and feedback that shows they have been thoughtful enough to ask their employees what they need as it relates to support vs. assuming what they need. This is where some leaders are missing out on the amazing opportunity to really step up for their people.

Here are a few examples of the kind of questions you can ask to seek out the clarification you need to better understand what each employee needs from you: 

  • How can I best support you?
  • What do you need from me to set you up for success?
  • Is there anything specific you need from me, or do you just want to talk it through?
  • What role do you see me playing in this project?  

There are many questions you can ask, and the point is, stop guessing or assuming, and ask your people what they need from you. If you have both been clear with your expectations of one another, that will help provide some foundational insights to this question. It’s your job to continue probing and offering support because this is not a one-time discussion as their needs will change from moment-by-moment, situation-to-situation.  

As the work shifts, projects change and their role evolves in the business, please keep asking as sometimes they might need more from you depending on the situation at hand.

This is situational leadership philosophy at its core. Give people what they need based on where they are at that point in time. Sometimes we need to coach and listen and sometimes we need to be more directive because they don’t have the required knowledge or experience.

To build on this further, it will also vary depending on their tenure and level of experience in the role so don’t be shocked if your high performers don’t ask for much, but please don’t forget to ask them how you can support them. They, too, need a sounding board or supportive ear at times, or perhaps they need you to help run interference on an issue. Whatever it might be and whoever it might be, please never stop asking your people how you can best support them as that is your responsibility as their respective leader.

What else can you do to create a culture of accountability and high performance?

These are just two of many approaches we need to take as leaders to foster a culture of accountability and high-performance.

I would like to hear your thoughts on this topic and dig a little deeper as to why this is so critical to your collective success.

I encourage you to reach out to me as I am here to help support your success. You can email me at or call me at 1.855.871.3374.

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