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Crucial Accountability

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Crucial Accountability

Tools for Resolving Violated Expectations, Broken Commitments, and Bad Behavior


15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

If you want people to hold themselves accountable, avoid making harsh judgments.

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative
  • Applicable
  • Well Structured


What should you do when someone cuts in line in front of you or speaks of you supposedly humorously but disparagingly? In such circumstances, most people end up doing nothing. Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler present the second edition of their popular 2005 book, then titled Crucial Conversations, to give you reliable techniques to use in tough discussions. They support your efforts to speak up and hold others accountable with techniques they learned by watching respected executives cope with potentially stressful situations. The authors spell out a solid methodology in useful detail to benefit anyone who must hold others accountable.


Most people never hold others accountable for acting badly in public.

The most crucial conversations in life concern the situations that have the highest consequences if people don’t live up to their responsibilities. The big question about failures of accountability is often, “Why didn’t you keep your commitment?”  

Speaking up when someone violates a social norm or another accepted standard can be difficult, but norms enable people to coexist without discomfort and anxiety. Problematically, most people simply won’t call others out, even when they should. For the majority, the downside of potential conflict is worse than the upside of speaking out. Confrontation risks too much trouble.

But if you know how to speak up effectively when others are out of line, the upside outweighs the downside. You can learn how to handle these uncomfortable situations with aplomb. Turn to the same techniques that leaders who are known as “positive deviants” – people who cope skillfully with potentially stressful situations – use to hold their employees accountable when they exhibit inappropriate...

About the Authors

Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler have produced four New York Times bestsellers. They co-founded and lead VitalSmarts, a corporate training company.

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    E. J. 2 years ago
    If done respectfully everyone wants to be lead, have clear goals. Those who resist it I feel have personal goals, not team goals. If you can set goals, one by one and provide the why it creates better results.

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