Developing Shared Accountability

Robert Schultek, Author of
The Gauntlet

Shared accountability for delivering results is a quality that defines high performing teams. Under this principle, team members accept that they are accountable to each other for fulfilling the team’s mission or goal, sharing the responsibility for the commitment they made, including the consequences it creates.

In addition to being accountable for their individual duties and goals, team members accept responsibility for the overall team goal as their higher obligation. Each team member holds themselves and then each other, accountable for delivering the specific actions, attitudes, and behaviors that the team requires of them. Rather than working and thinking as individuals, and trying to protect their own space, they collaborate and share knowledge, ideas, experiences, and feedback to make the team a better performing unit. And they realize that holding one another accountable means sharing responsibility for supporting one member when that person faces a challenge. How fully team members accept that everyone’s successes or failures fall on all their shoulders is a good means for measuring how accountable team members are to each other.

Leaders develop this culture of shared accountability, where the team serves as the ultimate arbiter of its performance, by:

• Sustaining awareness of the team’s shared mission or goal, and why it’s important;

• Encouraging team dialogue, with established ground rules, so members report to one another

about wins, challenges, and potential solutions, versus individual action reports to the leader;

• Remaining engaged in team discussions and actions, using questions and suggestions to foster decision-making while retaining the responsibility as final decision-maker when necessary;

• Making time for the team to discuss longer term, more strategic issues aimed at improving team performance or the company’s progress;

• Using frequent feedback to individuals and the team, as appropriate, to share knowledge,

acknowledge contributions, and express appreciation.

A culture of shared accountability, improves team performance and strengthens the team’s

commitment to its mission and to one another.

How are you developing shared accountability with your team?

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