Who holds the CEO accountable? 

Every year leaders at all levels take stock of where they are and where they want to be around the New Years’ holiday. The prospect of a new year and a clean slate is often intriguing because as leaders we are constantly working to drive change. 

For CEOs accountability is often a tricky subject. You have nearly complete autonomy to make decisions and focus on the things you decide. But how are you checking yourself to ensure those priorities are the right ones?  

Here are three pitfalls to avoid with methods for increasing your personal and team accountability:

Pitfall 1 – Everyone agrees with you!

If you find that everyone is nodding along compliantly with your every word, that is a big problem. Work to spark debate within your team. Ask pointed questions to draw out opinions of your team and really listen to what they are saying. Have vigorous debate and then align and move forward. You don’t have to agree to be aligned. Who in your life is challenging your decisions and thoughts? If you don’t have anyone doing that for you, there is a huge blindspot in your leadership. 

Pitfall 2 – Everyone wants something from me. 

Whether it is your executive team, your trusted partners (like your CPA and legal team), or external sales reps who are targeting you for their next big sale everyone seems to need something from you. How can you get unbiased advice? Consider joining an executive peer group. The purpose of Vistage Peer Groups is to help leaders make better decisions and get better results. Being surrounded by other CEOs who have been on a similar path allows you to have that essential outside perspective of a peer who can help you without any agenda. This group essentially acts as your outside advisory board to keep you on point. 

Pitfall 3 – Everyone is not on the same page.

If everyone heading in their own direction, how can your team expect to reach the goal? Drive alignment with your culture and goals (yours included). Everyone on the team plays an important part in achieving your vision, so make sure the right people are on the bus and give them the tools needed to get it done! Are you either intentionally or unintentionally withholding information from your team? Maybe you are worried about how they will perceive you if they see the financials. Maybe you are trying to protect your staff because you aren’t sure if the big M&A deal will go through. Either way, you have to ensure you are sharing information smartly and creating an environment for success. As the CEO, you are responsible for the people who are responsible for their results.  

Every system is perfectly designed for the results it is currently getting. If you want to drive accountability for yourself and your team, push for vigorous debate (pitfall 1), diversity of opinions without bias (pitfall 2), and alignment via transparency (pitfall 3).

Here is to getting better every day and to a great year ahead! 


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