The word for today is accountability. It’s an elusive yet powerful tool for your leadership toolbox.
As a young manager, I don’t think I ever thought specifically about accountability. Sure, there were deadlines and goals, but as my teams reached those, seldom, if ever, did I include intentional accountability.
It was later in my career that I discovered the incredible power of accountability. I was invited to join a men’s mastermind group. At each meeting, we shared the truth about where we stood with important areas of our life. We banded together to hold each other accountable for accomplishing the growth and change we each desired.
During the following several years, the collective outcome from that group enriched lives, expanded businesses, and strengthened families. Powerful indeed!
Here are three, very important ways accountability impacts you and those around you.
It Starts with You
The leader must set the tone, communicate the vision, and establish expectations. “Inspect what you expect” is a wise old saying. Once you establish the expectations, you have to monitor the progress.
Team members failing to meet expectations must be called to accountability.
But accountability isn’t punitive. It’s responsible.
Accountability gives the team the sense of “I’ve got your back.” If the leader sets that tone, then it is much easier for others to follow.
Leaders can demonstrate accountability by being accountable to the team. Let them know when hurdles are met, but also when they are missed. Which hurdles? YOUR hurdles.
Acknowledge when you need to stand up to something that has slipped or fallen behind; i.e. below standard. Call yourself out for that and let the team know you’re serious about meeting those expectations yourself.
Your Teams Want It
Yes, it’s true. People inherently know whether they have met the mark or not.
Among your best performers, they are looking for that small margin of gain which they truly believe is there. Despite how gifted and talented your team may be, the best performers know there is more that can be achieved.
If you, as their leader, ignore this margin, your action (by avoiding the subject) becomes a disincentive to your best performers. You’ll lose their respect.
It would be like you denying them one element of what it takes to build job satisfaction.
For your workers who are already on the cusp of performance, they too know they should be doing more. If you ignore this part of accountability with them, then they will slide further away from the desired performance.
Your Peers Expect It
In every 360 review I’ve ever been a part of, there is a mention from the peer raters that the subject person needs to do something with accountability.
Either they need to see it across the organization or within the team. Simply put, accountability is at a premium regardless of your position in the organization.
When you ask a sister department for support, they know they should be accountable. If you don’t manage that expectation, you will lose face with your peers too.
What About the Servant Leader
When I coach clients in the area of accountability, the ones who rate high on the servant leadership scale are often soft on accountability.
Consciously or unconsciously they feel enforcing accountability will detract from their collaborative leadership approach. They err on the side of letting people figure things out for themselves i.e. the “less than” performance issues.
For all the reasons cited above, even the best servant leader needs to hold people accountable. And the great ones do.
Set Goals That Are Measurable
Be sure your expectations have measurable attributes to gauge the “wins”. What does success look like? Think about that as you plot the strategy for your team. Then clearly communicate your view of success.
Define it for the team. That way, you have a clear goal by which you can hold others accountable.
Leading Your Team’s Accountability
Finding the right tools to lead your team’s accountability is not hard. For the leader, accountability is about setting the expectations, then following up on them.
With Big 5, you and your team establish five things you want to accomplish during the month. At the end of the month, you report on those five and set a new five for the next month. Right at the start of the new month, you sit with each of your team members and review the report; aligning expectations and talking about results.
That is great accountability.
The report is simple but elegant in nature. Using Big 5, you are always on the same page with your team. It’s a great coaching tool for you, as a leader, to implement for your team.
Let me stress Big 5 is not a “big” report. It’s a one-line summary of each task you decide is a priority. Many of my clients administer it using email between the manager and the employee. (Although there is a cloud-based app to get it done).
Using a tool like Big 5 can increase clarity on the expectations and deliver regular accountability for everyone on your team.
Leave a comment. Tell us the approach you have used to hold your team and yourself accountable.
Attention Houston area business leaders, the Silver Fox Advisors is hosting its monthly Lunch & Learn program. This month features NASA Astronaut Col. Michael E. Fossum, USAFR.
Michael E. Fossum is the Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of the Galveston campus of Texas A&M University. He joined Texas A&M following his retirement from NASA in 2017.
Fossum was selected as an astronaut in 1998. He is a veteran of three space flights; STS-121 in 2006, STS-124 in 2008 and Expedition 28/29 in 2011. Fossum has logged more than 194 days in space, including more than 48 hours in seven spacewalks.
He was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Air Force and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Texas A&M University and Master of Science degrees in Systems Engineering and Physical Science from the Air Force Institute of Technology and the University of Houston – Clear Lake, respectively.
After completing graduate work, he was detailed to NASA’s Johnson Space Center, where he supported space shuttle flight operations, beginning with STS-3. Fossum left active duty in 1992 and retired as a Colonel from the U.S. Air Force Reserves in 2010. Michael Fossum retired from NASA in January 2017.
Born December 19, 1957, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and grew up in McAllen, Texas. Married to the former Melanie J. London. They have four children and four grandchildren. He enjoys family activities, motorcycle riding, and backpacking. Mike’s main hobby is serving as Scoutmaster of a Boy Scout troop.
Awards and Honors
NASA Exceptional Service Medal and three NASA Spaceflight Medals. Scouting awards include Distinguished Eagle Scout, Silver Beaver and Vigil Member of the Order of the Arrow. Distinguished Military Graduate from Texas A&M University and Squadron Commander in the Corps of Cadets. Awarded the U.S. Air Force Meritorious Service Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters and various other service awards. Distinguished Graduate from the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School, Class 85A.
“The time will come when man will know even what is going on in the other planets and perhaps be able to visit them.”
Henry Ford, Theosophist magazine, February 1930
Silver Fox Advisors’ President Bill Herman stated, “Come join us and learn about the teamwork and preparation needed to achieve a successful mission by reliving space travel with Colonel Fossum.”
The Silver Fox Advisors’ Lunch and Learn events are held at the Houston Racquet Club, 10709 Memorial Dr., Houston, TX 77024. To learn more about the Silver Fox Advisors’ Lunch and Learn Sessions and to register for this event, visit our Website at www.silverfox.org.
Seating is limited, and due to the special nature of this very informative session will fill up fast, so make your reservation today.
Tables of eight are available for $315. Lunch is served at 11:20 a.m., and the Program will begin at 11:50 a.m.
Silver Fox Advisors are proven business leaders who advise, consult, and mentor other business leaders, CEO Roundtables, and entrepreneurship programs.
The following is shared by permission from a dear friend, fellow coach, and down-right classy human being, David Norris.
I hope you find this to be of value to you today. David writes:
I recently posted this quote on several social media platforms and received a number of requests to translate and explain further.
Consciously or unconsciously, we are all driven to grow. We see a future that we want to live in, and we are either able to intentionally get there, or we cannot.
A major determinant of whether you will get there or not is simply that you actually believe that you can.
We carry around a huge amount of personal baggage from our past experiences that inform our attitudes about the future. In many cases, we develop a sense of learned helplessness that causes us to believe that we will never be able to get the future we want.
This self-defeating logic is reinforced by our own inaction toward overcoming this baggage from our past. It becomes a pattern. We get used to not getting what we want. We come to believe that it’s normal and simply the way things are.
Before we can overcome these issues, we have to understand what they are. This is by no means an all-encompassing list of issues that characterize bad past experiences that can prevent you from realizing your own ability to move toward your desired future, but if you recognize yourself in any of these, it’s time to get to work.
You have historically associated closely with, and strongly feel a part of a group of people who are not finding success in love, life or work.
You have been so focused on simply getting by that you felt like you were unable to actually learn new ways to be better.
You were brought up in a religious tradition or other circumstance that instilled you with strong feelings of guilt and shame but never focused on positive qualities like love, intimacy, vulnerability, and learning.
All of your past relationships have caused tremendous pain and ended badly, leading you to believe that is simply an inherent quality of all relationships.
You have plateaued when pursuing your goals, and you come to believe that you are simply not the kind of person who is capable of achieving the success you want, incapable of understanding why others are able to reach their goals.
You have believed that you are just not trying hard enough when it comes to your goals, and later when you do try to commit stronger to achieving your goals with the same mindset and more effort, you expect things to turn out differently.
You associate change primarily with things turning out badly. Therefore change is scary and something to be avoided. You may not be happy with the way things have been, but they could likely be much worse.
What these dilemmas all have in common is that they use the past as a basis for constructing the future.
They cause us to forget our own talents and abilities, to undermine our own skillfulness and resourcefulness. They squash our ambitions by prioritizing fear over risk and reward.
The experiences described above are universal. Every successful person has faced some variation or combination of these scenarios, and yet they have managed to get wherever it is that they were aiming at.
How does that happen? Is it that others simply have greater abilities or possess more potential? No. It is that they have not allowed the past to become a myopic lens for viewing the future. They have distilled experience into wisdom. They have recognized that failure and difficulty are necessary opportunities for stretching our abilities to enable growth.
The essential thing that you must do is to take the lessons you have learned from the past and put those lessons into practice by actually doing something. You will not overcome any one of these by letting the clock run out. There is no way forward in doing nothing.
Try Something Different
If what you have tried in the past has not worked, try something different. We are often drawn to work harder because we are choosing the more familiar path. That path is our default setting. It is often our first idea and the one we feel most comfortable setting forward with.
But growing is not about feeling comfortable, it is about moving forward through the thick grass toward foggy vistas and breaking through all of that to discover new territory.
The future does not live in the past unless you stay stuck where you are. The future is where you are going, not where you have been.
Wake up! Take control and consciously create your own fate. Live by design. Live today well!