Accountability: The Boundaries of Acceptable Behavior

“The art of leading, in operations large or small, is the art of dealing with humanity, of working diligently on behalf of men, of being sympathetic with them, but equally, of insisting that they make a square facing toward their own problems.”

~ S. L. A. Marshall

Accountability: The Boundaries of Acceptable Behavior

By Angie Morgan

My three year old loves to “potty talk.” Partly because it gets a rise out of me, and partly because he can get away with it. The other day he put a phrase together that shocked my entire family … and made me ask myself, “How did we get here?”

Well, it didn’t happen overnight! Somewhere in his short-lived life he started using these words at home. And, after realizing that he could shock us and there were no real consequences, he started exploring the boundaries of acceptable behavior. (He definitely found them!) Needless to say, moving forward language is going to be scrutinized in the Morgan household.

Has something like this ever happened to you at either home or work? Have you ever casually observed a behavior that – at first – was a concern, but not problematic; therefore, you weren’t aggressively addressing it? Then, a few weeks later, addressing the issue became paramount to your team’s long-term success?

Maybe it was a safety issue, such as you noticed crew members lax with safety standards and then a safety emergency presented itself. Or, maybe even with deadlines, such as a team member was soft with deadlines until one day he/she blew a major deadline that damaged your reputation with a key client?

The lesson here for all of us is to pay attention to the pink flags in our lives – those small warning signs that indicate a performance issue. Those pink flags will eventually turn red! It’s always easier to define the boundaries of acceptable behavior and hold others accountable to those standards earlier in a relationship than later. Doing so saves you from often avoidable situations.

This article was provided courtesy of Lead Star – a premiere leadership development firm. You can learn more about leadership by visiting their website at


When you see a behavior of concern in your employees or team members, what have you found to be the best way to address it? Please share with us below.