Rethinking accountability

We still hear leaders claim their diagnosis of inconsistent performance as a "lack of accountability." What we know about inconsistent performance is how it is closely related to an external locus of control. People perform poorly when they think they are the object rather than source of power. Powerlessness leads to mindless, careless, apathetic work. 

When holding people accountable means enforcing more control over people with threats and confrontative conversations about their deficiencies, external locus of control increases. People who get fired or demoted are often people leaders are "holding more accountable."

People perform better when they work instead with an internal locus of control. This manifests as working with a sense of trustworthiness rather than fear, apprehension and risk aversion. Smart leaders support the growth of trustworthiness by coaching people on how to work by agreement and focus on learning and success.