Leadership Nudge® 377 – Don’t Hold People Accountable

March 2, 2022by Sandy Wilmer

Giving people decision-making control over their work and resources is an alternative to feeling the need to hold people accountable. Watch David explain.


I don’t like the term “holding someone accountable.” Usually, for me, it means I need to make someone else feel the sting or feel bad for their bad performance. And I kind of have this image of a dog slinking away with a tail between his legs. Actually, what I don’t like is the “need” to hold people accountable. Because usually it comes from this structure where I get to make the decisions and tell you what to do, and the deadlines, and I control the workflow and the resources. But then I’m upset because you didn’t achieve what I want you to do, even though you didn’t have any decision making over it.  

So what’s the alternative?  

The alternative is giving people decision making authority over as much of the work as possible. Now, we can’t say “Do whatever you want, whenever you want,” obviously, but we can give people a lot more control over the internal decision making over the workflow, the work processes.; as much control with the resources as they can. Now, they will naturally feel accountable. I don’t need to, quote “make them feel accountable,” which by the way, I don’t think it can do anyway.  

So the alternative to having to hold people accountable is to give them decision making authority. That’s hard. That’s why bosses go back to “well, I don’t want to do that. That’s something I have to do. So I’m just gonna point the finger at you.” Obviously, I’m sensitive over this issue.  

I’m David Marquet. That’s your Leadership Nudge. 

Sandy Wilmer

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Intent-Based Leadership International, LLC • 1435 E. Venice Ave #104-173 • Venice, FL 34292 • +1.941.408.0311

Intent-Based Leadership International, LLC • 1435 E. Venice Ave #104-173 • Venice, FL 34292 • +1.941.408.0311

Intent-Based Leadership International, LLC • 1435 E. Venice Ave #104-173 • Venice, FL 34292 • +1.941.408.0311