Held to Account

Looking to improve? Take responsibility

By Jay Perry

One of the most challenging parts of leadership is the issue of accountability. We all know and want the benefits that can come from holding ourselves and our team to account for quality of services or products, our policies, actions and decisions but the balance required to do it properly can be elusive. Those benefits are worth the time and effort it takes to develop the skills necessary. The reduction in frustration can make life easier for everyone. The advancement our team members can make in confidence and their skillsets is enormous. It builds into our ‘business DNA’ sustainability. Further, I believe it is truly the way to work smarter, not harder. It’s a common old adage, but few tell us how to do so. Accountability is the key to that door of working smarter.

What leaders often get wrong about accountability is the mindset. They think it is punitive in nature; mean-spirited. They can believe it leads to micro-managing. They often resist executing it properly because they feel it’s like throwing someone under the bus—trying to catch someone doing something wrong.

These thoughts and sentiments couldn’t be further from the truth. The end game of accountability is to assist our team members to becoming self-reliant in providing corrective measure that take us toward continuous improvement in the area of everything we do as a corporation. I’m talking about doing it correctly because, when it is done incorrectly, those actions can tear teams apart, demoralize staff and lead us to on a backwards path rather than advancing.

There is a lot to this subject, but the premier thing to keep in mind is mindset. We have to look at accountability as information sharing. That requires us to be willing to share – so open-mindedness is imperative. It takes an objective position and focuses on facts, so we have to have an evaluative approach. Think of it as an audit. An audit doesn’t change facts; it just looks at true outcomes. When we develop that kind of approach everything else becomes so much easier—we work smarter, not harder.

When done correctly it actually moves from being a retroactive look into an opportunity to one that is proactive in its practice. It may sound odd, but it can help refocus the team onto putting efforts into the right things in the right way, hence becoming proactive in its results.

Would you like to stop the blame game? Would you like to reduce ‘friction-points’ in your operation and improve cooperation? How about cutting waste from your procedures? What of optimizing trust and teamwork? Would you like to have highlighted the fairness you believe in as the leader of your organization? This is what can result from an appropriate use and proper execution of accountability. It is another way that we can stay the one who’s driving.

Jay Perry is the founder of Ally Business Coaching, a process improvement and leadership development firm, and co-author of the book Success Manifesto with Brian Tracy. Jay is also an education partner with California Coast University in Santa Ana, California. He can be reached at jayperryally@gmail.com.

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