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31 Days to Becoming a Better Leader


Day #10: Accountabilities and MetricsAccountability

If you are building a culture where honest expectations are communicated and peer accountability is the norm, then the group will address poor performance and attitudes.

– Henry Cloud

As previously noted, having a plan is essential to fulfillment of a vision; however, having a plan is not insurance for achieving the vision. As the old saying, in its corrected form states, “The proof of the pudding’ is in the eatin’.”

Here’s where good intentions get set aside and we set up standards for excellence. This begins with the leader (that’s you!). Transforming an idea into results means transforming interested individuals into a high-performing culture. The ultimate and most critical transformation begins and continues with the leader.

Let’s define what I mean by metrics and accountabilities.


This is a tool for measuring performance, for example, how many donor presentations have been made in a month, or what percentage of the people or organizations completed a donation versus those that did not donate. Metrics are broad measures of success. A KPI (Key Performance Indicator) is a deeper measure of who made a presentation to what type of person or organization, over what period of time, etc. Both of these are standard procedures in many, but not all businesses, and few, if any nonprofit organizations.


Fundamentally, accountability is a willingness to accept responsibility for one’s actions as an individual or an organization. Nonprofit boards are accountable for the organization’s finances and governance. All decisions on contracts and budgets rest with the board. The staff is accountable to the board. I teach that board members, staff, and committee members are accountable to each other and ultimately to the board. Too many nonprofit leaders want to make all staff and volunteers accountable to them, when, in fact, it’s more productive if the groups share a mutual accountability and interface with the leader, who guides the process and sets the desired outcomes.

In organization work, just like in corporations, much of the accountability process is empowered by face-to-face meetings. Members of any group share weekly or monthly deliverables with the group. Every member of the group realizes that even though they each are independent in responsibility for their own deliverables, there is interdependence between all members of the group. If one falls behind or fails, then it impacts the work of others.

The action plans to reach monthly milestones for completing the annual goals are created in a team setting with transparency and interactivity, with each person understanding how their mutual effort impacts the success of each other. Team members make a commitment when setting deliverables to the others on the team. In the successive meetings, it becomes obvious who is making progress and who isn’t making progress.

It’s the leader’s role to interface with each team member between meetings to mentor, correct, encourage, or assist, as needed. Building relationships is key to this process.

Also, micromanaging anyone completely takes away the desire of those whom we lead to take responsibility for their own work. The difference between network mentoring and micromanaging is 180º. They are exact opposites.

Define the desired outcome, allow the team members to create the action items under your guidance, stay in touch between meetings, and use regularly scheduled meetings as reporting sessions and not work sessions. You will need work sessions, just not all the time.

By the way, everyone looks to the leader to model accountability. Work on your own plan more than that of others. Be sure that you set the standard and that the standard is high.

Next: Day #11 – Skills and Gaps

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