Book Category: Leadership, Business,

Leadership Without Excuses: How to Create Accountability and High-Performance (Instead of Just Talking About It) (book summary)

Author: Jeff Grimshaw, Gregg Baron,
Life Changing Principles
Quality of Writing
Overall Value
pros: Great for leaders, beneficial for teams, clear writing
overall rating



Leadership Without Excuses provides many tips and strategies for building accountability in the workplace. Grimshaw and Baron share real-life examples of highly successful people and companies to illustrate effective means of leadership.


  • Lead by example. Your team will never trust you if you don’t hold yourself to the same accountability standards they are supposed to achieve.
  • Create very clear expectations, and do not allow exceptions. Doing so means that employees do not have to guess at what is really expected of them or what is really out of bounds.
  • “Reward what you want to see more of. Stop tolerating what you don’t.”
  • The more transparency and honesty you have with your subordinates, the more your subordinates will have with you. Allow your team to offer suggestions and criticisms. Not only will they have more respect for your authority, they will feel more ownership in the process and value their work more.


  • Always remember to be transparent in your intent and ensure that your intent does not waiver; if it does, you will have suddenly created “gray” in what should be a black and white situation.
  • As you work with my peers to coordinate an action, ensure no one creates unnecessary excuses or blame. The more tolerance is shown for misconduct, the more often it will occur.
  • It is highly important to encourage strong bonds between team members. 


There are three kinds of people. Some people are saints— they never make excuses. Some people are sinners—they always make excuses. Most people are saveables—give them an excuse, and they’ll use it to defend their egos and avoid responsibility.

Make compliance policies and procedures comprehensible to mere mortals. Policies and procedures are most often written for technical and legal exactitude by auditors, accountants, and lawyers. The result: policies and procedures that can be read and used only by auditors, accountants, and lawyers.

Without clarity about who is responsible for performing specific tasks, it’s impossible to have accountability.

Not everyone is looking for the challenging new opportunities. Take this into account if they’re otherwise providing tremendous value in their current role.

That’s a high performer who will stay a high performer. Don’t punish them for wanting to stay at a level they enjoy.

It’s irrational for employees to pay attention to—and invest effort to align with—any new effort or initiative they believe is “flavor of the month” and will soon be forgotten.

Your greatest source of power is your ability to change how people feel.

The measure of any consequence is the extent to which it influences the way the recipient feels.

According to the players of football powerhouse University of Florida, Coach Urban Meyer “preaches family a lot. Our teammates are our brothers. You never want to let family down. The feeling of letting a teammate down is so much worse than letting the coach down—because the coach is still going to coach you. If you let your teammate down, there’s no telling if he can trust you on the field again or not.”

“I reserve the right to get smarter. And I expect you to do the same.”

This is why it’s so important for leaders to take excuses out of the system by creating the conditions of accountability: Communicating clear and credible expectations. Creating compelling consequences. Leading conversations grounded in empirical reality.