Leaders in all walks of life need to hold the people they lead accountable. But holding people accountable is hard because there is usually an emotional and sometimes a relational cost involved in the act of holding people accountable. But to not hold people accountable is ultimately an act of selfishness as Patrick Lencioni shows in his awesome book that you should buy and read The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business:

At its core, accountability is about having the courage to confront someone about their deficiencies and then to stand in the moment and deal with their reaction, which may not be pleasant. It is a selfless act, one rooted in a word that I don’t use lightly in a business book: Love. To hold someone accountable is to care about them enough to risk having them blame you for pointing out their deficiencies.

Unfortunately, it is far more natural, and common, for leaders to avoid holding people accountable. It is one of the biggest obstacles I find in preventing teams, and the companies they lead, from reaching their full potential….

Many leaders whop struggle with that (again, I’m one of them) will try to convince themselves that their reluctance is a product of their kindness; they just don’t want to make their employees feel bad. But an honest reassessment of their motivation will allow them to admit that they are the ones who don;t want to feel bad and that failing to hold someone accountable is ultimately an act of selfishness.

After all, there is nothing noble about withholding information that can help an employee improve. eventually that employee’s lack of improvement is going to come back to haunt him in a performance review or when he is let go. And i’m pretty sure there is nothing kind about firing someone who has not been confronted about his performance.


Patrick LencioniThe Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business, 57-59


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