Darryl Stewart
By Darryl Stewart
Image of people walking on a narrow bridge over a lake

Positive peer pressure leads to accountability

In The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, author Patrick Lencioni suggests that peer pressure is the most effective and efficient way of maintaining high performance standards. The kind of peer pressure Lencioni is talking about is not the negative kind that saw many of us do silly things in our youth. It is the positive kind that comes when we wish to truly fit into a group doing great work at a high level. We see impressive things being accomplished and we want to contribute.

Positive peer pressure takes hold when all the members of a team feel accountable to each other, and free to challenge each other when great work does not happen.

A leader can build this type of accountability on a team by:

  • Sharing with everyone the goals of the team and the objectives and tasks of each individual.
  • Holding regular team meetings where everyone reports back about how they are performing against their objectives.
  • Shifting any rewards away from individual performance and towards team accomplishment.
  • Allowing the team to serve as the first and primary accountability mechanism.

Further, the leader must be ready to be the ultimate arbiter when the team fails. It must be clear to all that accountability has not been deemed the exclusive domain of consensus and that the leader will not hesitate to step in when necessary.

When a team can get to a high accountability level working against high standards, the pressure to do good work just like your teammates is the best kind of peer pressure possible – because we all want to fit in.