Managing Diversity Properly: How A Leader Gets People More Accountable for Results


We talk a lot about supporting diversity these days. Diversity is a lot more than gender and color of our skin. We are all diverse in one way or another and bring with us unique talents and needs. Great leaders know that accountability is key to every success and it is more about delivering on commitments rather than making a confession of mistakes and taking the blame when results are less than desired or something goes wrong. Employees have responsibility to outcomes, but the same is true at all levels of hierarchy. Holding people accountable for results is a little bit more difficult than it sounds. A leader can (or should) only enforce proper practices of accountability if one also makes clear of expectations, capability, measurements, and feedback regarding the objectives to be achieved. Clarity in required in:

 1.      Expectations: being clear about what the objectives are helps eliminate possible discrepancy between employee’s expectations of results and yours. Employees also need to understand how you will measure success during and at the end of the projects. In some cases, a leader must provide clear instructions on how to achieve the desired outcomes as well. You don’t have to micromanage everything indeed, but at least you can provide general ideas and strategies on how employees should go about carrying out the given tasks. Before the final set of expectations are defined, make sure everybody is on the same page about the objectives to be achieved and how achievements are made.

 2.      Capability: genuine conversations about goals, methods, timetable, and resources help prevent you from setting unrealistic expectations too. A leader knows the organization and the people in it better than anybody else does. Armed with the knowledge of employees’ skill sets, a leader will NOT demand unreasonable outcomes. For example, it is beyond any managerial sense to ask an employee from logistic department to represent the organization in negotiation concerning legal matters; demand a single salesperson to achieve more sales number than last month within a week; make a manufacturing company to produce more than its maximum capacity, etc. Unreasonable leader should not be rewarded with blind obedience. Only held people accountable for something they are capable of delivering, but reluctant or lacking efforts, not because the objectives set them for failures.

 3.      Measurements: to determine how much a person must be held accountable for less satisfactory results, you need an objective method to measure how far or close the results are to the objectives. The utilization of weekly (or any timetable preferred) milestones filled with clear measurable targets makes an effective way to ensure not only accountability but also performance. Assuming a milestone is not achieved in time, you have valid evidence that shows negligence or the lack of concerns on the employees’ part. Milestones also act as indicators for poor performance; this way somebody is held accountable based on data-driven measurement.

 4.Feedback: given clear expectations, understanding of capabilities or resources, and data-driven measurement methods, it becomes easier to provide honest on-going feedback for performance both good and bad. You can praise and criticize, but more importantly you need to be helpful. Employees are more likely to receive negative feedback in welcoming fashion when the person on the criticizing side is able to point out clearly where the mistakes are. It demonstrates the sense of authority acquired from technical awareness rather than concealed incompetence.

 All four points must go together in balance before you can hold anybody accountable for results with fair, accurate, and constructive manner. Underperformance comes with consequences, but so do managerial mistakes. Accountability in an organization goes both ways, so it makes little sense to blame employees when the leaders themselves fail to do their due diligence.

 Leadership is an active process. Leaders must look for opportunities to support followers. Ultimately, everyone wins with each team members feels supported and daily actions produce greater efficiency and effectiveness. Helping people get meet expectations take differing amounts of time depending on the  person and the situation. This is why leaders must practice patience, tolerance, be respectful and diligent. The payoffs are huge for leaders willing to practice these four leadership essentials.

Make good choices and have a great day! Only you get to choose how you feel about it!

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Dr. Paul Gerhardt is a skilled leadership and diversity trainer who builds customized workshops online or at your workplace. He is a tenured professor of management. He is a diversity and leadership well-respected and trusted trainer who helps organizations get amazing returns on their training investment. Visit for more great free articles and to learn more about leadership effectiveness. Dr. Gerhardt is the author of several publications available on, including Diversity at Work, The Diversity King; Leadership Lucy and the Leadership Handbook. Consider inviting Dr. Paul Gerhardt to do customized leadership or diversity training at your organization. Most organizations find that diversity and leadership training by the right trainer yields a significant instant return on investment. You can get your FREE COPY of the Leadership Handbook by clicking this link:



Some say he’s half man half fish, others say he’s more of a seventy/thirty split. Either way he’s a fishy bastard.