In today’s world, many leaders struggle to understand what accountability really means: is it simply holding people responsible for their defined obligations – or is it something more? Your understanding of accountability determines your response when a crisis strikes and a project is at risk. A leadership style and how one responds to problems can help build organizational capacity. While it is crucial to address problems quickly, it is also important to include your team members in the solution.

Here are five ways your leadership style can help build more accountability and capacity in your organization:

  • Share the big picture. Help people discover the connections between their work and the organization’s goals and mission. If people don’t feel connected to the big picture, they are less likely to be effective problem-solvers. A big-picture focus is especially helpful for team members in customer-facing positions. According to Aberdeen Group, what distinguishes Best-in-Class organizations from the Industry Average is their ability to communicate engagement efforts across the entire organization.
  • Focus on results and expectations. Job descriptions are helpful in defining roles, but don’t let them prevent the flexibility need to resolve a customer’s issue. Rather than focusing exclusively on roles and who does what, let your team know that they are accountable for resolving customer issues. Engage team members by role-playing and scripting what a successful customer resolution might look like.
  • Expect setbacks and learning curves. Plan for the inevitable setbacks and missteps that will happen when team members are getting used to a new way of working. Focus on “lessons learned” and document for the next time.
  • Incorporate coaching and advising into your role. If it is customary for team members to escalate issues to you for your resolution, figure out ways to actively involve the team in the resolution. Ask “how would you resolve the issue?” If more skill-building is needed, consider opportunities for team members to shadow you.
    “WOW – what we have learned through this development process and workshops are amazing – we now have a much more effective way to approach daily challenges and ways of working as a team.” Rich Grant, Senior Partner, BPM
  • Know the work and leadership styles of your team members. There is no “best style” when it comes to leadership. Style assessments can help you uncover the strengths and preferences of your team so they can be leveraged to everyone’s advantage.

Employee engagement pays off through productivity today and higher retention rates in the future. As the economy expands, more employees are considering new opportunities. In fact, recent studies by and the San Jose Mercury News have shown that up to 70% of today’s employees are open to moving to a new company.

Although salary is often cited by the departing employee as a reason for leaving a company, engaged employees who feel respect, whose contributions are valued, and who are part of a strong team, have a much higher loyalty to the company and are less likely to jump to a new opportunity.

Given the thousands of dollars (two to four times the employee’s annual salary) required to recruit and train new employees, developing, engaging and retaining your key team members so they grow with the company is a worthwhile investment.

“Thanks to Next Step’s recruitment, professional development, manager programs, and coaching, we have been able to open new stores and expand our business with greater performing employees and fewer headaches.” – Jim Ball, CEO, Fast Cash