46% of upper-level managers are rated “too little” on the item, “Holds people accountable … .” (HBR)
You missed the point if accountability is:
- Coercing reluctance to do things it isn’t committed to do.
- Expecting performance from weakness. Accountability won’t help squirrels lay eggs.
- Says we are responsible to each other.
- Expresses commitment. Those who aren’t willing to be accountable haven’t committed.
- Defines dependability. What’s more insulting than one unprepared person on a team filled with talent?
- Demonstrates confidence and self-respect.
- Sets the ground rules for respect and trust.
Accountability recognizes strength and honors performance.
I’ve never been asked to lead a workshop on how to hold ourselves accountable. It’s always about others. That is the heart of the problem.
Accountability is something to work on together, not mandate from on high.
- Leverages fear.
- Depends on carrots and sticks.
- Promotes disconnection and arrogance. Relationships disintegrate when leaders stand aloof.
- Invites resentment and disengagement.
- Dis-empowers those who need to feel powerful.
- Requires leaders to go first.
- Demands respect-based interactions.
- Strengthens connection and relationship. We are responsible to help the people around us succeed.
- Honors integrity and courage.
- Gives opportunity for humility.
Jim Whitehurst, CEO of Red Hat, said, “Go into every interaction with those who work for you believing that you are as accountable to them for your performance as they are to you for their performance.”, and author of, “The Open Organization.”
Blurry responsibility leads to vague accountability. Vague accountability is no accountability.
- Who owns the project or initiative?
- Who makes decisions? The group. A project leader. Someone who isn’t in the room.
- What are the deliverables?
- What are the milestones and deadlines?
- What happens when deadlines are missed?
Complexity is like fog to accountability.
What might mutual accountability look like in your organization?
How might leaders lift accountability out of the category of punishment?