Accountability and commitment

“Accountability is the willingness to care for the well-being of the whole; commitment is the willingness to make a promise with no expectation of return.” – Peter Block, in Community: the Structure of Belonging

This year we’ve been exploring how leaders can effectively lead change efforts through various stages. So far, we’ve discussed:

  1. Assess Current State
  2. Articulate Vision
  3. Set Strategy and Goals
  4. Engage Stakeholders

This month, we will be gathering methods, tools, resources, and hopefully, inspiration that leaders can use to build accountability and commitment for a change effort. Building accountability and commitment is critical to making sure a change begins to be implemented, but it is sometimes an overlooked stage of change.

I’ve witnessed and have participated in change efforts that move through the first four stages beautifully, but then get bogged down because there is an assumption made that everything will flow smoothly after a strategy is set and stakeholders and/or employees are given their charge. When progress slows because of low accountability or commitment, employees and stakeholders can feel confused, frustrated, and sometimes even angry. I’ve even seen people give up on the change effort. Have you ever experienced that phenomenon?

As we begin our month-long series, I’d like to ask you what have you done to build accountability and commitment that has worked well?

Anita Rios





2 responses to “Accountability and commitment

  1. Julie Smendzuik-O'Brien

    For me, a crucial step in the “accountability and commitment” stage is to return to the “set strategy and goals” phase and fill it out.

    Strategy and goals need action steps, associated responsible parties, indicators of what is a successful completion of the action step and dates for completion. Strategy and goals are the “what” and actions/resources/evaluation measures/and timetables are the “how” to achieve the goals and strategy. Filling in the “action” blanks gives participants a chance to comment on and commit to what they usually know about: things that will work or not work and reasons why.

    “Ideas” without ways to reach them are like clouds – they eventually drift away.


  2. Thanks for sharing the concrete example of a workplan with action steps, Julie. I agree that the process of creating that workplan builds commitment and provides a platform for accountability.


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