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Leadership: Responsibility Produces Results
January 5, 2016
What comes to your mind when you hear the word accountability? If you are like most people, the mere mention of the word brings about anxiety. Why is that? Most likely you have had a negative experience with the process of being held accountable. As a child we were held accountable by our parents to obtain good grades in school, and if we didn’t there were surely consequences. (In my house is was an old fashion swat!) As youth athletes we were held accountable to show up and do our part, and if we didn’t there were consequences. (In my case it was running bleachers!) As professionals we are held accountable to come to work and perform our job duties, and if we don’t there are defiantly consequences. (Yes, I was fired from a job once!) Let’s face it, in every area of our life someone is going to hold us accountable for our actions. It is time to embrace the concept of accountability and use it to our advantage.
W. Edwards Deming said, “Leaders must inspect what they expect.” As a leader, the challenge lies in our ability to create a culture of accountability that fosters “buy-in” from our people. Naturally, people do not want to be held accountable for their actions. Therefore, if we are to help our people succeed; we must create a culture of accountability that is positive. Your people will be more receptive to a process of accountability when they realize it is there to help them succeed. It is your job as a leader to convey that message and back it up with action of your own.
Here are three areas of accountability that will allow your people to succeed:
Output – What are the results? With clearly defined performance objectives, it is not hard to evaluate the current performance of your people to determine if they are reaching their potential. As leaders, we measure what matters. For example, if you are leading a sales team, you will measure how many contacts, demonstrations, proposals, sales, etc. There is an old saying, “The numbers never lie”. Evaluate the performance in relationship to the standards you have set in your organization and coach your people accordingly. I promise, if you help your people with the areas they struggle in, they will begin to see results and that in itself will foster a positive engagement to the accountability process.
Opinions – What is the mindset? The great Zig Ziglar said, “Your attitude will determine your altitude in life”. As a leader, we must be personally invested in our people so that we know them well enough to tell when they are struggling mentally. Life happens to all of us. Whether it is relationships, finances, health, etc., it doesn’t take much to knock us off of our game. Take time to sit down with your people and talk to them about what is going on in their life. You will be amazed at how this simple act will increase your influence with them. Why will most leaders not do this? As my mentor John C Maxwell states so eloquently, “Leadership is a messy business.” Be willing to get a little dirty, it will be worth it!
Obstacles – What is holding them back? Have you ever had someone on your team that seem to have all the potential in the world, only they continue to struggle with performance? If you have been in leadership any time at all, I am sure you have had such an experience. The challenge is to help them define those limiting beliefs that are holding them back from manifesting the results they (and you) desire. The best way to identify a limiting belief is to ask the question, “If not, WHY?” If someone is not performing up to their potential, why is that? What lie have they bought into that is hindering their achievement? Help them overcome these limiting beliefs and watch them soar.
There is no question that creating a culture of accountability is a tough task. But, leaders that make it a priority and create a positive environment for people to grow in, are the ones that stand out.
What are some ways you create accountability with your team?