5 Tips for Improving Accountability With Jan Griffiths, President and Founder of Gravitas Detroit

5 Tips for Improving Accountability With Jan Griffiths, President and Founder of Gravitas Detroit

You’ve just finished your annual strategic planning meeting, which hopefully if you listened to episode 73 of our podcast, went a little better than usual. Now you’re sitting at your desk with binders full of big ideas and lofty goals for where to take your company next. And as a leader, it’s your responsibility to seize that heightened energy from your team and run with it. So how are you going to do that?


On first glance, ‘accountability’ might conjure up some negative feelings. It certainly does for Jan, who has long associated the word with blame. 

“When people say, I'm gonna hold you accountable, it means you've got to do this. Because if you don't, you're gonna suffer the consequences,” Jan says. “And that's not what accountability is all about.”

What accountability should look like is you as an authentic leader using your management skills to inspire your team. Instead of just “trying your best,” start thinking outside the box and pushing your team to reach for loftier goals. After all, how are we going to grow and change this industry if we’re only focused on playing it safe? 

In the second part of this special solo series of Finding Gravitas, Jan breaks down company accountability and how to do it right in the automotive industry. For more on accountability, check out Jan’s recent episode with Brian Moran, co-author of Uncommon Accountability.

Themes discussed in this episode: 

  • What accountability really means
  • How to be clear about your goals and expectations 
  • Why positive language gets things done
  • What it means to take ownership of an objective
  • How to create a safe environment for high performance
  • The importance of metrics and how to track them 

Featured Expert: Jan Griffiths (Host)

What she does: Jan is the co-founder and president of Gravitas Detroit, an organization dedicated to cultivating authentic leadership by providing courses, workshops, speaking events, and more. She is also the host of the Finding Gravitas podcast.

Episode Highlights

Timestamped inflection points from the show

[0:37] Adjust your strategy: Jan recaps her top five tips from episode 73 on how to improve your strategic planning meetings to create a more authentic leadership culture.

[3:14] Where to go next: Effective strategic planning is essential, but what are the needed steps to put your new ideas into action? How do you carry out objectives and keep people accountable for their goals?

[6:32] Definition and clarity: You can’t hold your team accountable if they don’t know exactly what they’re being held accountable for. Be clear and direct with specific goals, objectives and tasks.

[7:24] Positive language: Jan explains why it’s so important to use positive accountability language and why it helps get things done.

[12:22] Own it: What does it mean to encourage your team to take ownership over an action item? In this segment, Jan discusses how you can inspire your team to own their tasks and why doing so will hold them accountable.

[15:09] Fear and failure: Our tendency to play it safe comes back to our natural fear of failure. But playing it safe isn’t going to change the automotive industry. Here’s how to break that mold and create an environment that allows your team to aim higher.

[17:24] Metrics and tracking: Jan explains why she’s researching the OKR method — objectives and key results — to track progress and improve accountability.

[19:37] A brand new look: Jan’s taking a short break following this episode of Finding Gravitas to take a step back and rebrand. Listen to this segment for more on why we’re rebranding and what you can expect when the podcast returns on September 22nd. 

[24:23] Keep in touch: We love to hear from our listeners! Email Jan directly at Jan@gravitasdetroit.com to tell us about your journey to authentic leadership and what topics you want her to cover in future episodes.  

Top quotes

[7:08] “You cannot hold people accountable to something that's vague — that people don't understand. So spending time making sure you have definition and clarity, every minute of that time is time well spent. ”

[9:28] “What does that mean, I'll try my best? Does that mean it's gonna happen or not? When you're running a business or you're making a commitment and taking ownership, that kind of language just doesn't work. So you have to start to train the team — and it starts with you — on using positive accountability language.” 

[13:16] “It's up to you as the leader to get people to feel inspired and excited about these strategic objectives so that people want to be a part of it [and] they want to own it. That’s what leadership is all about.”

[15:33] “We're not going to be able to stretch ourselves and really reach for those moonshots… if we always play it safe.”

Ready to take action on authentic leadership in your company?

Visit us at Gravitas Detroit for more tools.