Commitment & Accountability – the key to unstoppable teams…

Following our last note on Candour and Communication, we turn our focus to the next set in our core values of performing teams: Commitment & Accountability.


Commitment in this context refers to the person’s contribution to the team and the organisation’s purpose. Whilst accountability is about meaningful ‘controls’ (measurements) to authenticate that commitment.

Based on the premise that every individual brings with them unique strengths which must be maximised to achieve performance, commitment requires identifying what they are and how they will be employed.

Conversely, there is a need to understand each person’s weaknesses to ensure they are supported by others.

Most people are unaware of their strengths, let alone their weaknesses.

However, in an environment that encourages vulnerability & trust as well as candour & communication, these can be clarified so teams function effectively and efficiently.

Responsibility lies with both the individual and the manager for this to be achieved. Contribution of strengths is weighted towards the former, whilst complimenting weaknesses with the latter – all working together in harmony.

Self-actualisation vs Selfishness

Team First
When optimising strengths, consideration should be given to the important difference between self-actualisation and selfishness. Self-actualisation requires a degree of self-sacrifice – developing and deploying one’s expertise to accomplish common objectives.

Selfishness, on the other hand, occurs when individuals pursue anything that detracts from the organisation’s purpose and mission.

Discerning and managing self-actualisation vs selfishness is difficult in any environment, let alone professional sport. Often athletes are transient – spending a few months on a team and then moving on to their next contract – one where they will be largely evaluated and valued based on their individual statistics.

In one organisation, to ensure the seriousness of our expectations, we erected a larger-than-life sign at the entrance to the organisation to announce the ground rules.

It read:
Around here, the team is more important than the individual.
We don’t care how good you are, if you’re not willing to put the team first, then this is not the place for you.


Accountability is the test for commitment. It works to calibrate it at all levels and across everyone within the team.

At it’s core, it requires that all individuals accept the impartial truth about their actions and behaviours. Where necessary acknowledging areas of change and an execution road-map.

Accountability is also about recognition of performance.

Especially in non-sporting environments, or where success and results are either long term, lacking milestones or ambiguous, the emphasis can be more about gaps and failures.

Whilst this is critical for continual improvement, where there are significant achievements, they must be celebrated.

Winning vs Performing

In sport, winning often belies performance. It can deter from the pursuit of excellence.

It is not uncommon for mediocrity to thrive when success is based on the binary measurement of wins and losses – where the ‘controls’ are not objective, but reliant on beating the competition (which may not be very good).

Rejoicing follows winning, however, reflection follows losing. Yet, one can win and still leave tremendous room for self-analysis and development.

Fairness and Universality

Accountability mandates fairness and universality. For we are all not the same and sometimes not everyone is equal. But for commitment and for team performance there must be fairness. Where each one is held to account based on their individual ability, engagement level, contribution and responsibility. And in a way that can be communicated, understood, and accepted as reasonable. It must also be universal – without exception or bias – or the appearance of either.


Clarity plays an integral function in the practice of accountability. It ensures roles, expectations, controls, (measurements), communication levels, execution empowerment, even consequences are well understood by all concerned. It outlines expected values and behaviours. It ensures there are no passengers, dissenters, weak links, leaks, breakdowns.

Pursuit of Goodness

Finally, and certainly not the least important, is the need for accountability to incorporate not just quantitative measures but qualitative factors as well. The ends do not always justify the means. We have long argued for the adoption of ‘goodness controls’ in every pursuit so we ensure that how something is done is equally considered with what is being accomplished.

In every organisation or team, commitment & accountability are core values that seek to answer the two key questions: Are we all in? As well as if each individual is ‘all in’?