Six Leadership Obstacles to Team Success

pilot plane

By Lee Ellis

The plane had drifted off course by 200 miles, but the pilot didn’t know how it got there! He started out with the proper heading and course, and began the journey confident that he was ready to fly. Now he’s thinking, “If only I had a co-pilot or voice guidance system alerting me along the way, I would’ve saved a lot of time and fuel (money).”

For many leaders, this scenario makes perfect sense, yet the need for an accountability culture at work is not always accepted. We want the positive elements of success—achievement, notoriety, money, and excellence for clients and customers. But we’re unwilling to do the right things to get there. <<Tweet This>>

Fearing the Accountability Solution

Our society seems to be somewhat schizophrenic about accountability. We hear passionate complaints about the lack of accountability across the spectrum—from the government, politics, education, and business to finance, religion, and the media. At the same time, when it comes to being on the receiving end, accountability seems to have earned a bad image. It seems so negative and often equated with frustration and injustice, even punishment.

So in one way we want accountability, generally. But in another way we fear and reject it, personally.

The Positive Accountability Strategy

So even though almost everyone would agree that accountability is not only a good thing—but an obvious necessity in most areas of life—it’s also seen as difficult and dreaded. Before looking at the many positive benefits of courageous accountability, let’s examine this paradox a bit further. I think we can reconcile the underlying psychology and philosophies that bring these strong opposing feelings about this powerful word—accountability.

6 Obstacles to Courageous Accountability

Reflect on these 6 obstacles to accountability, and see if you can identify your weak spots –

  1. Pride – This is the kind of unhealthy pride, also known as “hubris” that allows us to inappropriately elevate ourselves above others. Because of an inflated ego, we may think that we’re “special” and the rules don’t apply to us.
  2. Fear – There are a multitude of doubts and fears that can cause “normal” people to want to avoid accountability. Fear of failure—I may not be able to come through. Fear of making a mistake, fear of not measuring up, fear it will be too hard, or too risky. There is also fear of losing control.
  3. Laziness – We all have to overcome our natural tendency toward laziness. Scientists now know that our brains are wired to choose the easy way out—it’s called habit. The downside to habits and mindsets is that wisdom is not always included.
  4. Lack of Experience, Knowledge, and Planning – Some people just don’t know how to step out and follow through and are hesitant to be accountable or hold others accountable. Perhaps they’ve not seen a good role model for accountability.
  5. Busyness – Related to laziness and inertia, busyness usually consumes us when we’re not living by priorities. We have busy schedules and it’s easy to procrastinate.
  6. Negativity – If this is your challenge, you are paying a high cost. Emotions are highly contagious and negative ones zap energy and undermine teamwork. Begin by reflecting on your attitude to discern the energy that is driving your negativity.

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The Truth Cannot Be Ignored

A wise person once said that people will continue to follow their old ways until they decide there’s a greater payoff by changing to a different behavior. Certainly there is a lot of truth in that statement. <<Tweet This>>

Just like the pilot who unintentionally got off-course, honorable leaders realize that courageously embracing accountability is the best long-term strategy for getting results and developing healthy relationships that can serve as the watchdogs in your life. I like this quote from, The Oz Principle, a great book by Connors, Smith, and Hickman[i]. In their third principle of accountability, they tell it straight. Listen to what these experts say –

“When the people you count on fail to follow through and deliver on expectations, there’s only one thing to do—apply the third and final principle, the Accountability Truth. True accountability begins by looking at yourself, by holding yourself accountable. The truth is, when things go wrong, there is usually something wrong with what “I” am doing. When you embrace this principle, you harness future outcomes and strengthen your ability to hold others accountable.”

I have one task for you in this article: choose to embrace accountability as part of your path to success. What are your positive accountability experiences and comments? Please share them here.


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[i] The Oz Principle, Roger Connors, Tom Smith, and Craig Hickman



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Posted by on May 4, 2016 in Uncategorized


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Leadership Freedom Checklist – 28 Items That Reveal Your Strengths and Struggles

leading with honorOne of our most popular infographics is this 28-point list showing what it means to be an honorable person and leader.

Check it out and realistically evaluate your strengths and struggles. Or more importantly, ask someone for feedback that knows you really well!

Please click to view on Slideshare, and share your comments – thank you

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Posted by on May 3, 2016 in Uncategorized


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Thank You, Steve H, for Your Leading with Honor Comments

Leading with Honor - BookWe’re so grateful for testimonies like this one about the ‘Leading with Honor’ message from Steve H. –

“I’ve led turnarounds for venture and Private Equity firms for the last 20 years. While reading your book, I constantly thought back on these difficult assignments to see how your principles would have applied; I’m glad to report they applied beautifully. I just wish you’d written the book 20 years ago. Well done!”

Read more comments, and thanks for your support!

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Posted by on May 2, 2016 in Uncategorized


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On This Day in Leadership History for May 1, 2016

On this day in leadership history in 1986, Bill Elliott set a stock car speed record with his Ford Thunderbird in Talladega, AL. Elliott reached a speed of 212.229 mph.

I’m sure that Bill didn’t aim to break a speed record; but when the opportunity presented itself, he took the risk and did it. What opportunities come across your path as a leader?

bill elliott

Bill Elliott – Wikipedia

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Posted by on May 1, 2016 in Uncategorized


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Georgia HR and Training Leaders – Join Lee in September at SHRM

The Annual Georgia SHRM Conference is coming up in September! HR and Training Leaders–Join Lee Ellis as he presents strategy and tactics on how to train your staff with character, courage, and commitment. Hear his dramatic story of his POW capture and experience.

Learn more at the link below, and please share – thank you!


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Posted by on April 30, 2016 in Uncategorized


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Leading with Honor Wisdom for Today, April 29, 2016

Lee Ellis Leading with Honor

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” – Mark Twain

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Posted by on April 29, 2016 in Uncategorized


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A Leadership FAQ on Honor – Get Your Daily Dose

Just another reminder to choose honor today and do the right thing! Here’s an FAQ from Lee Ellis – “How would you define honor and what is its importance in personal and professional life?”

Lee’s Answer – “Honor is doing what you know is right, performing within an established moral framework and living in an honorable fashion as a leader.  It’s doing your duty, carrying out your responsibility even in the face of difficulty and even when it costs you.  It’s essential for teamwork where trust is so critical. It’s the backbone of proper execution where dependable performance is critical to success.

Without honor, relationships fail and like any organization, businesses depend on relationships for internal success.  Although the best motive for being honorable is courageously doing the right thing, the positive impact on reputation is a byproduct that cannot be discounted. There are high stakes for organizations to maintain a deep level of integrity and trust with customers, investors, or stockholders. So, making right and honorable leadership decisions has a significant impact on reputation management, too.” 

Leading with Honor – Website

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Posted by on April 28, 2016 in Uncategorized


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