Accountability breeds success
Being an executive comes with tremendous responsibility. If our business stops being successful or doesn't meet expectations, it is us – the presidents, CEOs, directors, etc. – who must answer to our board or shareholders.
But even though we're the ultimate decision maker, it doesn't mean we're in this alone. A great leader creates a culture that empowers employees to contribute effectively to the overall mission and goals. Part of that is holding everyone accountable to their responsibilities.
Leadership guru Dan Rockwell astutely notes that most people find holding others accountable "distasteful" because we're inclined to pick up the slack (this gives me flashbacks to group projects in school), want to be liked, try to avoid uncomfortable situations and more.
We need to overcome this anti-accountability disposition. Here are some tips from Rockwell to start holding people accountable:
- Think of accountability as a partnership. The success of our organization is dependent on our entire team – from top to bottom. Ensure that responsibilities are clearly defined and teammates understand who is doing what.
- Adopt life-giving accountability behaviors and practices. As a leader, it's important to be there for your employees. Set goals together and commit to seeing others succeed. They should feel comfortable coming to you when they struggle and not fear the consequences of failure. I'm a big proponent for a solution-oriented work environment because it supports accountability as well as employees' overall well-being.
- Approach accountability as a process, not an event at the end of a project. This is especially important when working on a larger project. We should know well before something is due where it stands; that way, we can effectively maneuver obstacles. Have regular one-on-ones to check professional – and personal – status. Here are some tips to stay connected with your employees.
- Hold people accountable for their growth and development. A good office culture should make employees feel connected to their team and the organization's mission. That in turn instills a sense of responsibility and accountability, motivating them to learn and grow. If an employee is comfortable sticking to the status quo – and eventually falling behind – maybe they're not the right fit for your team.
Holding others accountable is understandably a difficult task for leaders and managers. Recognize the reasons why you might struggle doing so, and be upfront with your employees. They will appreciate your honesty and commitment to seeing them succeed.
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