You’ve built your church planting team, gotten them all on the same page, and trained them for their new positions by working alongside them. Now what? In our last post of a three-part series on developing your team from the bottom up, we will discuss how you must create a culture of accountability.

What comes to mind when you think of the word accountability? Being accountable can mean one of two things: being subject to explanation or capable of being explained. No matter which way you look at it, if accountability does not exist, you are wasting your time. So where do you start?

The Source of Your Results

Leadership expert, Patrick Lencioni, rightly says that “Great teams do not wait for the leader to remind members when they are not pulling their weight.” But before you can hold your team accountable you must first and foremost look in the mirror and admit that you as the leader are the problem. Accountability starts with you. Before you start inspecting what you expect you must first look at your own leadership.

Did you lay out crystal clear expectations and put them on a page? Have you taught your people how to get an “A” with you? Have you been to the bottom with them? Did you really build trust, buy-in, and commitment? The reality is this: the results of your organization are a result of your leadership, or lack thereof.

Start with Yourself

Everything rises and falls on leadership. You’ve heard this a million times, and so have I, but it’s true. You need to know that you are not just checking someone else’s work, but you are seeing the result of your own work. I hope you can see why I have started here. This is essential. You have to understand that your team or organization is doing exactly what/how it should be doing under your leadership.

As the leader, you have to learn to point the gun at yourself. Don’t blame your team. You are accountable first and foremost. Leaders must give an account for the activity and/or performance of the organization and be capable of explaining the results, whether good or bad.

Now, with this understanding let me say this: you absolutely do need to hold your people accountable. Let me remind you what you are holding them accountable to:

  • The job description that you gave them,
  • The expectations you explained to them,
  • Your relationship that you gave them, and
  • Your leadership that you gave them.

Funny how it all comes back to the leader, but it’s true. It’s like golf. Golf is one of the only sports where the player actually has to record his own performance, good or bad. But in leadership you don’t get a handicap.

Build Accountability into the Culture

Now that you’ve set the expectations and held yourself accountable to fulfill your role as the leader, how do you hold your team accountable?

  1. Check in on them regularly. Ask them how they are doing more than you ask what they are doing.
  2. Celebrate the wins.  Catch them doing things right, and let them know—even the small stuff.
  3. Coach them. A good coach doesn’t only coach on game day. He is always coaching. I call it “feedback on the fly.” When you see something, say something. The more often you do it, the better, and the less tension there will be. A five second coaching tip in the moment can save you from a time consuming blow up later.
  4. When necessary, cut them. You can do everything right and still need to remove someone from a particular position. It happens for a whole host of reasons. They might be better suited for another team. As the leader you have to make that call. Put the ball in their court, and ask them “how do you think its going?” Most of time they will tell you the truth. It’s easiest for everyone when we agree it’s not the best for the church to continue in a specific area.

Accountability is, to some extent, about keeping the score. Your people want to know how they’re doing, that’s true. But don’t forget that what you see in your team or organization is ultimately a reflection of you. So look in the mirror first and start with yourself. Your team will be much better.

Bryson Isom

Bryson Isom

Bryson Isom is the pastor of Valley Life | Camelback, located adjacent to the campus of Grand Canyon University.