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It’s a 100% proposition. PERIOD.

We’ve often heard, that the most important decisions you make as a leader are about your people.  I agree.   These are the decisions regarding hiring, promotion, development, feedback, compensation and incentives.   It is our job as leaders to hire people and place them in jobs that leverage their strengths, challenge them to develop and ensure our organizations ecosystem allows them to thrive.  Our effectiveness as a leader is judged based on the collective results of our teams.  Then why do we hear leaders want to excuse performance because of the people vs. focus on their leadership accountability.

If your people fail, it is a direct reflection on you.

Any organization can be a better place, but none of us can do it alone.  It takes leadership to select and build the right team.

I’ve heard people say, “Well, how can I, as a leader, be 100% accountable, isn’t this a 50/50 deal?”  Think about what you’re saying.

How can we expect our people to succeed if we as leaders only give 50%?  It just won’t work.  If your team knows you don’t put forth 100% leadership effort or believe in their ability to deliver, they WILL NOT and CANNOT deliver.167165272

People perform to our expectations as a leader…I’ve seen it play out over and over in my career and so have you.  Whether it was a teacher, coach or supervisor, what they think matters and effects your ability to perform.  We all do better if we think our leader believes in our ability to make it happen and will stick with us through the toughest parts until we overcome the issues.  Yes, we work harder to do our best when we think our leader is engaged and shows they care.  We don’t want to disappoint them.

If people fail, there can only be two reasons.  First, YOU hired or promoted the wrong person.   You didn’t investigate and understand the skills and requirements of the job and then match it to the person’s skills, experience and knowledge.  It can happen to the best of us.  Hiring is a tough job.

Or second, you hired the right person but did not provide the right leadership for them to learn the skills, understand your insights or be coached to ensure the right knowledge and feedback was transferred and applied.   You didn’t give it your 100% but rather dropped the ball and gave up when the going got tough.  Bottom line you bailed on the people.    In both cases, it is your 100% accountability.  When you as a leader, teacher, or coach accept this fact, the results of your leadership will start to change.

It will be clear to your people too.  They will know the priority you put on leading and the intense focus you put on personally accepting both the responsibility and accountability to cultivate a world class team.

Right person, right fit, right performance.

There is no room for excuses and you can’t “wiggle out” of the accountability.  If you pass the buck, so will your people.   Your ability to consistently demonstrate this and hold your people to the same standard will establish your leadership standards for the organization.  Don’t let any leader “off the hook”.  Then be intentional in celebrating the successes of the people and the leaders.  It will incent others to follow.

I learned the importance of looking deeply in the organization to see the leadership source of your “future talent”.  You will see the leaders that refer to their people as the issue vs. those who that focus on the problem and then develop the people to overcome the issue.  I was amazed at what I saw and so will you.

The stark contrast in results speaks for itself.  Be aware of the attitudes at the various levels in your organization. I have seen situations where the frontline and mid-level management live this approach only to fall under a senior level leader that is not on board.  Philosophically, it requires you, the leader, to engage and establish your leadership standard without compromise.  No exceptions.  Without this kind of focus, you will be wasting talent on your team which in turn stands in the way of progress for your organization.  You simply can’t afford to have a leader that doesn’t work to optimize EVERY PERSON on the team and isn’t willing to provide the right leadership to make that happen 100% of the time.  If they don’t  or won’t make this commitment, then you need to find a leader that can. PERIOD.

Leaders can make their people the excuse for performance gaps or they can develop future leaders that drive results.

What kind of leaders are in your organization?   Are they making excuses or building the future leaders?    The answer matters and effects the way you can lead your life.  If you are a leader, choose to focus on the issues and the build the teams muscle to overcome the issues.  If you are reporting to a leader, evaluate them based on where they focus.  If it isn’t the issue or problem, it may be time to find a new leader.  You will NEVER reach your potential in an environment that doesn’t support development and renewal.  In the end it’s up to you, how will you chose to lead your life?


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  1. Great piece Nancy! Very well said and, as I look back on my career, I could have put your perspective to very good use.
    Thank you for sharing your skills and insight!

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