When words are meaningless

Without this one thing, your message rings untrue

Welcome to For Leaders, your go-to source for essential leadership insights and perspectives shaping today's world.

In this week’s newsletter:

  • Strategic Summaries: Key insights and takeaways on the importance of accountability in leadership

  • The For Leaders Podcast: Houston Methodist CEO Dr. Marc Boom

  • Words of Wisdom: A powerful leadership quote to inspire

  • Leaders’ Library: What we’re reading this week

A curated community of leaders.

Strategic Summaries

A weekly roundup of the most interesting, useful and thought-provoking articles to help you be a better leader. This week we’re focusing on accountability.

Responsibility without accountability is meaningless. Inc. takes leaders to task for not being truly accountable. 

Our take: 2023 saw CEOs use the term accountability in many different ways. For Google CEO Sundar Pichai, laying off 12,000 employees was “difficult news” that he felt “deeply sorry” about and it “weighed heavily” on him.    

In this message to his employees, he expresses more humanity than other CEOs have given their teams (remember Better.com's CEO firing 900 people over Zoom or Elon Musk letting go of half Twitter’s staff via an anonymous email?).

But Pichai ends his message saying he takes “full responsibility for the decisions that led us here.” Does he? He didn’t lose his job, he wasn’t penalized for over-hiring during the pandemic. He wasn’t held accountable.

Key takeaway: Leaders can use the term responsibility when it suits them but if it’s not underpinned by accountability, it’s as good as meaningless. 


Employee accountability. If your team is lacking accountability, perhaps it’s a coaching problem in disguise. 

Our take: In a recent Gallup poll, a surprising 47% of workers responded that they only received feedback a few times or less in the past year. Yet feedback from leadership is how employees know what is expected of them and how they are doing in their role.

There’s an opportunity here for leaders to make a more-than-a-checkbox effort to provide ongoing feedback, essentially “coaching” their teams through two-way communication and strong coaching skills.

If this is an unknown area for you, investing in training on effective coaching strategies can be worthwhile. You’ll learn skills like active listening, communicating with empathy and questioning techniques that teach you how to give truly supportive feedback.  

Key takeaway: Leaders can’t hold their teams accountable if employees aren’t given guidance.


Lead by example. To have accountable employees, leaders need to demonstrate their own accountability. Here are 5 strategies. 

Our take: If you want your team to be accountable, the best way is to show them by taking ownership of your actions and decisions. This is strategy number one. 

2. Building understanding with individuals by knowing if they have the resources and support they need to demonstrate their accountability. 

3. Creating accountable leaders by training them on how to hold employees responsible for the results they have committed to (see above for a coaching approach).

4. Communicating clearly and comprehensively when sharing information and knowledge.

5. Requiring employee accountability through clearly-communicated expectations and a way to measure or track compliance.

Key takeaway: The most important way to have an accountable team is to demonstrate accountability as a leader.  


🎧 For Leaders: Houston Methodist CEO Dr. Marc Boom

Dr. Marc Boom is the president and CEO of Houston Methodist, a flagship hospital in Texas.

He reveals why we’re in a transformative moment in healthcare and why he sees the future of medicine with optimism.

In this episode, Marc shares key insights on:

  • Leading through a culture of integrity, compassion, accountability, respect and excellence

  • Healthcare reform – his vision for universal coverage

  • His belief that health care should be holistic, focusing on prevention

Words of Wisdom

One weekly, impactful quote for leaders.

“Without accountability, there is no trust, and without trust, there is no leadership.”

– Dave Ramsey

Leaders' Library

Every week, we share an interesting long-form piece of content to contemplate.

Today, we’re reading the book, Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. by Brené Brown.

Brown writes convincingly that great leaders are ones who can hold themselves accountable for seeing the potential in their employees and developing that potential. 

She interviewed leaders from a variety of backgrounds, from small start ups and family-owned businesses to large civic organizations and Fortune 50 companies. 

These leaders share how they lead with courage and accountability – through curiosity instead of pretending to know it all, sharing power instead of hoarding it, and leaning into vulnerability instead of avoiding difficult conversations. 

Thanks for reading! We’ll see you next week with more powerful leadership insights and inspiration.

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