Building A High-Performance Culture Through Accountability

Published January 28, 2019

I recently had a conversation with a ministry leader that I find myself having frequently. He had just taken a new leadership position in operations and he was surprised to find how many projects languished. Results, in many areas, were not emphasized.

He began to talk about accountability and results. Very quickly he hit resistance. Here is an example of a line he got that I hear frequently when ministry leaders begin to require people to be accountable: “You are acting like this is a business. This is a ministry and we have a culture of Grace!”

He became a topic of conversation and was described as “hard-nosed,” “demanding” and “not loving.” He called me for help.

You must integrate your message of accountability into a spiritual understanding that a performance-driven culture is a Christian culture as well.

When I heard his story, I recognized it as one that is rampant in churches, Christian organizations and in some businesses. It is the belief that holding people accountable is somehow not people-oriented or loving.

We worked together to build a culture of accountability. This is different from holding people accountable because if you try to do that without focusing on building a culture of accountability, the cultural forces in the organization will stop you from succeeding.

To build a culture of accountability for church and ministry leaders You must integrate your message of accountability into a spiritual understanding that a performance-driven culture is a Christian culture as well. It is the very essence of a New Testament culture and you must message that over and over.

A New Testament culture is one that demands results and accountability. It knows no other way. Love is unconditional in the New Testament, but approval is very conditional.

Consider these four examples:

1. In John 15:1-8: Jesus says that results are demanded or there will be consequences. The biblical word for results that is most often used is fruit. He says those who do not produce fruit will face consequences.

2. In Matthew 25:14-29: Jesus says those who do not use their resources well and multiply those resources in results will face consequences. Those resources will be taken away from them and given to someone else.

3. In Luke 13:6-9: Jesus says the tree that is not producing fruit will be helped first, not judged. But, if the tree remains unfruitful after another year, he says, “cut it down.”

4. In 1 Thessalonians 5:14: Paul says, “And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.” Idleness or disruption do not go unanswered without accountability.


One of the many things necessary for building a culture of accountability is the need for leadership to message over and over that getting things done; having an impact; doing what you said you were going to do in your job; stewarding resources well; showing up and doing one’s job is a New Testament culture. That is not an absence of grace at all. It is a culture of both grace and truth.

Remember, as a leader, you are the steward of your culture and it must include accountability for results, for fruit.

Here are tips to create a culture of accountability:

• Speak and message in whatever forums are available to you, the biblical view of accountability for performance in the New Testament. Include in the message that accountability does not mean that we do not help people to reach the results.
• Teach the biblical importance of always integrating grace and truth. Accountability without grace is not good, nor is grace without truth.
• Ask your leadership team to construct a strategic plan for building a culture of accountability. Require that your leadership team take the message downward to their teams and departments to work on building a culture of accountability.
• Hold town hall meetings with employees that include break outs to discuss accountability. Have people share when accountability has been hurtful to them and why. Then have them share where it has been helpful to them and why. Collect examples of the negative and positive ways accountability has been enforced. Build behavioral values around the positive ways the organization has maintained accountability and covenant together to follow those practices.
• Integrate accountability training into performance plans.
• Monitor the process of how people are doing in making accountability a priority quarterly. Measure changes.

Remember, as a leader, you are the steward of your culture and it must include accountability for results, for fruit.


About the Author
Henry Cloud

Dr. Henry Cloud

Clinical Psychologist & Acclaimed Leadership Expert

Leadership University

Dr. Henry Cloud is an acclaimed leadership expert, clinical psychologist and New York Times best-selling author. His 45 books have sold nearly 15 million copies worldwide. He has an extensive executive coaching background and experience as a leadership consultant, devoting the majority of his time working with CEOs, leadership teams and executives to improve performance, leadership skills and culture. Dr. Cloud founded and built a healthcare company starting in 1987, which operated inpatient, and outpatient treatment centers in forty markets in the Western U.S. There, he served as Clinical Director and principal for ten years. In the context of hands-on clinical experience, he developed and researched many of the treatment principles and methods that he communicates to audiences today. After selling the company, he devoted his time to consulting and coaching, spreading principles of hope and life-change through speaking, writing and media. Throughout the same years and until the present, he has devoted much of his career to leadership performance and development, blending the disciplines of leadership and human functioning to helping CEO’s, teams, organizations and family entities. His book, Integrity, was dubbed by the New York Times as “the best book in the bunch.” In 2011, Necessary Endings was called “the most important book you read all year.” His book Boundaries For Leaders was named by CEO Reads in the top five leadership books of its year. His newest book, The Power of the Other, debuted at #5 on the Wall Street Journal bestseller list. Dr. Cloud’s work has been featured and reviewed by the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, Publisher’s Weekly, Los Angeles Times, and many other publications. Success magazine named Dr. Cloud in the top 25 most influential leaders in personal growth and development, alongside Oprah, Brene Brown, Seth Godin and others.

Years at GLS 1996, 2005, 2011, 2013, 2016, 2021