Living Leadership

Living Leadership

Agree to accountability

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Julie Thorson
Julie Thorson

Sharing leadership ideas is what I try to focus on each time I write this blog on living leadership. I recently tried this approach with my team and the jury is still out if the message was received and if the tool works. Nevertheless, I believe in it and thought it was worth sharing.

Too often we study, coach, teach, but then do we practice and make leadership a habit? I would argue that holding ourselves and others accountable is the most difficult challenge we face, and one that we all face every day.

It's hard work, it makes us uncomfortable and as one of my team members said, there is a chance we can make ourselves or others look bad. Who wants to sign up for that? It is sometimes easier to just ignore and go with the flow. It may be easier in the short run, but in the long run it creates havoc!

So here's the tool, feel free to use or tweak as you would like: Consider having your team members sign this accountability agreement. Don't have them do it right away. Have them think about it, consider it and decide — are they really willing to sign and practice what they've agreed to?

If they sign, hold them accountable. If they don't sign, have a discussion with them. Why haven't you agreed to do this? What are the barriers? As your leader, what do you need from me to help you get to the place where you can sign?

So here it is, with some help from Patrick Lencioni, who, by the way, has quickly become one of my favorite leadership authors.

Julie's Very Formal Accountability Agreement


I will DWISIWD (Do What I said I Will Do). If I don't, I will acknowledge my shortcoming and commit to doing better.


When my peer doesn't behave as well as he or she could, I will, with love, remind that person about his or her personal commitment to accountability.

Direct reports

When the team members who report directly to me do not behave in the Friendship Haven way, I will have an honest conversation with them. I will hold them accountable for their actions and behaviors.


If my leader doesn't do what he or she has she he or she will do or doesn't behave in the (your community) way, I will remind them, with love, of the expectations we have all agreed to.

I _____________________________ believe in this accountability agreement and will do my best to practice these leadership skills. I agree the longer we put off holding ourselves and each other accountable, the more work we will have and there is more risk for low performance. The (insert your community's name here) way is to hold ourselves and each other accountable. I will not participate in conversations about one another. I will talk to team member directly. 

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Lencioni said it best in “The Advantage": "To hold someone accountable is to care about them enough to risk having them blame you for pointing out their deficiencies. “

Julie Thorson's “Living Leadership” blog has been named the 2016 “Best New Department” Bronze Award winner by the American Society of Health Publication Editors. The president and CEO of Friendship Haven, a continuing care retirement community in Fort Dodge, IA, that earned the Governor's Award for Quality in 2014, Thorson is a coach's daughter at heart. She is a former part-time nursing home social worker who quickly ascended the leadership ranks. Now a licensed nursing home administrator, she has been a participant in LeadingAge's Leadership Academy and was recently named LeadingAge Iowa's Mentor of the Year. 


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