(3:01 Video) “Shifting Accountability for Better Performance


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In this 3:01 video, Colleen Stanley and Steven Rosen stress that sales leaders must hold their teams accountable for performance. They note that leaders often accept excuses and attempt to rectify poor performance but underscore that individuals must ultimately be responsible for their results. They advocate for a shift in focus towards individual accountability and driving performance.

Steven and Colleen explain how shifting accountability to the individual is crucial. Managers can support, coach, and provide resources, but ultimately, it’s up to the individual to perform.

“Performance is owned by the individual, not the manager.” – Steven Rosen

“Good leaders, sales leaders, they’re hyper-responsible.” – Colleen Stanley

Managers who accept modest performance and try fixing individuals may perpetuate a situation. It’s time to cut the umbilical cord and let the individual take responsibility. The individual and the manager jointly own training. Still, effort and performance are clearly owned by the individual. You can bring a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.


In the world of sales leadership, one fundamental truth cannot be ignored: the people who make or break a team’s success. As a sales leader, you must ensure your team has the necessary training, coaching, and resources to excel. However, a fine line exists between being hyper-responsible and accepting excuses for underperformance. In this article, we will explore the importance of striking the right balance and shifting the accountability to the individual salesperson. We will analyze the implications and potential impact of these themes.

The Hyper-Responsibility Trap

Really good sales leaders are hyper-responsible. They take ownership of their team’s failures and constantly question whether they provided enough training, coaching, and resources. This level of care and dedication demonstrates a genuine concern for the team’s success. However, there is a danger in accepting excuses and shouldering the blame entirely. This behavior can be observed in many sales leaders, who believe they can fix people and improve their performance.

Many sales managers feel the need to take on the responsibility of fixing underperforming team members, but the importance of asking a crucial question cannot be overstated: Is this person the right fit for the team? 

While coaching and supporting team members is essential, there comes a point where the accountability for performance needs to shift to the individual. Sales managers should empower their team members to take ownership of their own performance.

Shifting Accountability to the Individual

Sales managers should shift the accountability for performance to the individual salesperson. While managers can provide support, coaching, and resources, it is ultimately up to the individual to deliver results. Most salespeople enjoy being individual contributors but also need to understand that they are accountable for their own performance.

There is a need for sales managers to let go of the belief that they can fix underperforming individuals. By perpetuating a situation where the manager takes on the responsibility for performance, they are hindering the growth and development of the individual. Instead, sales managers should focus on coaching and developing their team members while holding them accountable for their performance.

The Role of Training and Coaching

Both training and coaching play a crucial role in developing salespeople. However, they also emphasize that the responsibility for training and development is not solely on the shoulders of the sales manager. 

Colleen Stanley shares her experience of starting in a startup where she received only one day of training before being thrown into the deep end. This lack of training forced her to take ownership of her development and seek resources to improve her skills.

Steven Rosen echoes this sentiment, stating that the individual and the manager jointly own training. While the manager can provide guidance and resources, it is up to the individual to take initiative and actively seek out growth opportunities. He emphasizes that the individual owns effort and performance; if someone is not putting in the effort, no amount of training or coaching can make them successful.

The Importance of Coachability

Coachability is the willingness and ability of an individual to be coached and learn from feedback. Even with the best training and coaching, if a salesperson is not coachable, their performance will suffer. Sales managers need to assess the coachability of their team members and determine whether they are open to feedback and willing to make changes.

Sometimes, despite all efforts to provide training and coaching, some individuals simply do not have the buy-in or capability to perform at the required level. In such cases, sales managers need to recognize when it is time to cut ties and allow the individual to take responsibility for their own performance.

Implications and Potential Impact

The implications of shifting accountability to the individual are significant. By empowering salespeople to take ownership of their own performance, sales managers create a culture of accountability and self-motivation. This leads to improved performance and fosters personal growth and development within the team.

Furthermore, by letting go of the belief that they can fix underperforming individuals, sales managers free up their time and energy to focus on coaching and developing high-potential team members. This strategic shift allows for a more targeted approach to talent development, leading to a stronger and more successful sales team.


Effective sales leadership is all about balancing hyper-responsibility and holding individuals accountable for their own performance. Sales managers must recognize that while they play a crucial role in providing training, coaching, and resources, it is ultimately up to the individual salesperson to deliver results.

The future of sales leadership lies in empowering individuals to take ownership of their own performance and fostering a culture of accountability and self-motivation. Sales managers can create high-performing teams that drive success by focusing on developing coachable team members and letting go of the belief that they can fix underperforming individuals.

As the sales landscape continues to evolve, sales leaders need to adapt their approach and embrace this shift in accountability. By doing so, they will not only unlock the full potential of their team but also position themselves as true sales leaders.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Colleen Stanley
Colleen Stanley is president of SalesLeadership, Inc. a business development consulting firm specializing in sales and sales management training. The company provides programs in prospecting, referral strategies, consultative sales training, sales management training, emotional intelligence and hiring/selection. She is the author of two books, Emotional Intelligence For Sales Success, now published in six languages, and author of Growing Great Sales Teams.


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