Monthly Archives: June 2014

Holding groups accountable

teamwork1 free to useWhen leaders think about building accountability and commitment, many common strategies are focused on individuals.  With so much of our work focused on collaboration, how can we reward teams?

A recent blog by the Harvard Business Review provided some good suggestions.

  1. Make sure the team knows what you expect, and then check in regularly.  Acknowledge good work, celebrate milestones, and provide timely feedback on problems.
  2. Be creative with non-monetary rewards.  A pizza lunch can be fun, but many teams would rather have a chance to present their report to a senior leader.
  3. Talk in terms of teamwork.  Modeling collaborative behavior will reinforce the importance you place on the team’s efforts.
  4. Emphasize team accomplishments.  Where appropriate, consider doing a formal team evaluation and/or including team performance in individual evaluations.

Even more than in the past, our success going forward will depend on successfully building commitment for groups of people to work together collaboratively toward a common goal.  How might you need to adjust your leadership strategies to build group accountability and commitment as well as that of individual team members?

Dee Anne Bonebright

Hard to define, easy to recognize

Accountability and commitment are terms that face becoming buzz words. If you do a google search you will find hundreds of different definitions of each word. The same search also brings up even more consulting firms that each guarantee their approach or model will develop employees who are committed to change and create accountability in organizations.

Despite this confusion and ambiguity we recognize that successful change requires both commitment and accountability. While hard to define, committed individuals are easy to recognize and accountability becomes clear in how they act. I want to share a powerful example I just experienced that I believe can help us define commitment and accountability. Obama

Over the past week I had the privilege and opportunity to attend the 2014 West Point cadet graduation ceremony and participate in an officer’s commissioning for a new graduate. President Obama gave the commencement speech but what was more impressive to me was the picture of commitment and accountability these graduates demonstrated.

Group gradsTo become leaders these cadets had to complete a  demanding training program and an intense educational experience that required persistence combined with an overwhelming greater purpose, or commitment. In addition, to be commissioned as an officer and a leader, they willingly accept responsibility for the lives of the people on their team and in our country. They take accountability to do what they know they should do and take responsibility for the outcomes.

Over the next month Anita, Dee Anne and I will share ideas and resources that leaders in higher education can use to build accountability and commitment in our institutions and our people. The definitions can be murky at times but experiencing true commitment and strong accountability leads to amazing success! West Point grads


Todd Thorsgaard

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