This is the fifth in our blog series focused on reskilling priorities in our increasingly digitized world. Last week we looked at how to leverage the positive impact that effective goal setting has.

Today we focus on ways to create accountability on teams. A leader’s style massively impacts team productivity and engagement. These six tips are useful to motivate and inspire focus and action, especially at a time when employees can’t easily tap into their usual ways of staying high performing:

  1. Growth mindset

Do you have a growth mindset or fixed mindset? Leaders with a growth mindset are more likely to sustain high accountability in others. This means truly believing in the development and capabilities of others and helping them learn and grow and not expecting perfection right out the gate. Leaders with a growth mindset are genuinely curious and supportive of other peoples’ success and will invest time coaching and mentoring others, even if they don’t do things perfectly at first.

  1. Ask questions

Stop telling people what to do, and how to do it.  Ask open ended, not leading, questions that get others reflecting and thinking on a deeper level. This is more likely to lead to break through thinking and creative problem solving – and action. Leaders with a dominant directive style on the other hand, diminish others’ willingness to take initiative, as their sense of psychological safety is reduced.

  1. Use your brakes

If you can’t resist the urge to give people the answers or if you don’t know how to put a lid on your frustrations and emotions, you’ll discourage people to step up and be accountable.  Effective leaders know how to pause and manage their responses, to reflect, rather than react – leaving people feeling safe and supported and willing to think for themselves. All of which drive outcomes.  If you want to strengthen your brakes and impulse control, meditation is key.

  1. Learn to listen

In an increasingly digital workplace, we have to tune in to those we work with through a screen or on the phone. It’s a great opportunity to sharpen our listening and noticing skills so we can pick up on when someone is inspired and motivated by a task, project or topic. People are more likely to take action on something that interests and energizes them. Learn to listen for this energy and encourage people to take action, tapping into the brain chemistry of high motivation.

  1. Articulate actions

There is nothing more confusing than a poorly articulated and vague action item. Make sure you spend the time at the end of each meeting helping others clearly and specifically state what is to be done and by when. This ensures shared understanding of expectations and provides clarity on everyone’s accountability.

  1. Encourage breaks

And all of the above is only useful in building accountability, if you model, and encourage people to take breaks and step away. Our brains need to focus on other things, ideally pleasurable, as a way of processing and digesting thoughts and information, and to come back to our work refreshed.   Help them tune in, so they don’t just zoom out.