How To Hold Others Accountable With Brian Moran, Founder and CEO of The Execution Company and co-author of ‘Uncommon Accountability’

How To Hold Others Accountable With Brian Moran, Founder and CEO of The Execution Company and co-author of ‘Uncommon Accountability’

Episode Summary 

Accountability isn’t exactly a fun word. It has quite a negative connotation — probably because we’ve been acculturated to think that if we don’t hold ourselves accountable, we’ll suffer negative consequences (or, to use an even more fear-inducing word, punishment). 

But accountability expert Brian Moran offers a different perspective. As a professional with 30 years of expertise as a CEO, corporate executive, entrepreneur, consultant, and coach, he argues that reframing accountability around ownership rather than consequence can have significant impacts on our teams. 

Brian co-wrote the bestseller “The 12 Week Year” to teach leaders how to shorten their execution cycle from one year to 12 weeks. In his newest book, “Uncommon Accountability,” he reveals how to “hold others capable” by rejecting “command and control” and focusing instead on nurturing your team members’ sense of autonomy. 

It’s this autonomy, he argues, that fosters accountability. When employees are encouraged to view accountability as taking ownership, they realize they have freedom of choice in what happens next. It takes the leader out of the equation and puts the employee at the center of their own journey. They determine their future with the company by deciding how to learn from their mistakes. 

Execution drives accountability, and both are critical to the success of any organization.

In this episode of Finding Gravitas, Brian shares his knowledge to help listeners reframe their mindset around accountability and how to help their employees do the same. 

Themes discussed on this episode: 

  • Why so many people hate the word “accountability”
  • How we can create the freedom to perform without “command or control”
  • Why clarity of expectations is so important
  • The relationship between accountability and blame
  • Whether or not accountability is a system or a trait
  • How leaders can foster ownership among their employees 
  • How we can confront people with choice

Learn more about your host, Jan Griffiths in this short video

Featured Expert: Brian Moran

What he does: Brian Moran is the founder and CEO of The Execution Company, which helps entrepreneurs, sales professionals, and business leaders improve their performance and results. He is also a motivational keynote speaker and the co-author of two New York Times bestsellers, “The 12 Week Year” and “Uncommon Accountability.”

Episode Highlights

Timestamped inflection points from the show


[3:24] Getting to know Brian Moran: Brian shares a little about his background, notably how he worked his way through college by working for UPS. He gives a taste of how that experience led him to become the accountability expert he is today.


[7:12] The root of his writing: Unlike many business books, “The 12 Week Year” didn’t start with a theory, Brian says. Instead, he and his co-author simply started documenting how they work with clients. More specifically, they answered the question: We’ve created annual plans and goals, but how do we ensure they’re executed?


[10:01] The fear-inducing implications of “accountability”: The phrase “holding someone accountable” often has a negative connotation because it’s typically associated with punishment or negative consequences, Brian says. So how do we shift employees’ perception of accountability?


[13:29] Accountability as a trait and a mindset: If you want your employees to rethink the way they define accountability, encourage them to view it as taking ownership rather than suffering consequences, says Brian. This reframing creates a completely different set of actions and reactions. 


[15:19] Fostering ownership: You can’t force anyone to do anything. So Brian believes when you’re encouraging employees to take ownership, you’re confronting people with freedom of choice and therefore taking yourself (as a leader) out of the equation. It’s not up to you to determine what happens next. It’s up to them.


[17:54] Co-creating agreements: Brian says the first step is making agreements at the goal level. Those goals should be specific and concrete. Vague goals are too open for interpretation to be successfully met. 


[22:13] Keeping the whole team accountable: Keep teams focused on a couple of questions: How do we get better? And how do we get the results we want? It’s about looking forward rather than backward, Brian says. 


[28:36] It all starts with personal accountability: Brian argues that personal accountability is the underpinning of corporate and/or team accountability because we can’t be accountable if we’re not looking inward. 


[34:32] Gravitas is a leader’s responsibility: A person with gravitas has the goods, says Brian. They do what they say and say what they mean. So effective leaders are always asking themselves: Am I a better leader today than I was three months ago? And if not, what needs to change?


Top quotes


[8:03] “We need transparency with respect to execution … where everyone can see what's getting done from the plan, what's not getting done. And then we need evidence — is it producing or not?”


[15:23] “We have to move [away from] the mindset that we can force people to do something because that's manipulative, and people see through that. That's where you get collateral damage. So when we start to shift our thinking about what accountability is, it's choice — it's ownership.”


[15:57] “The people you're leading have a choice. And one of those choices may be to work somewhere else. So the key is to confront people with the freedom of choice, and the consequences of those choices.”


[18:59] “Most of the plans I've seen are conceptual, they're not tactical … Without getting granular to where you get specific, discrete actions, you can't have agreement on the behavior. And no one is going to sign up and take ownership of something vague because there's just too much room for misinterpretation.”


[23:20] “The victim mindset is [like] the rearview mirror. It's How do I shift the blame? … How do I not look bad? True accountability is more future-focused. We look back to learn, but there's no blame because we can't change the past … but we can learn from it.”

Ready to take action on authentic leadership in your company?

Visit us at Gravitas Detroit for more tools.