The Mindful Leadership Blog

Just In! There’s a Shortage of Accountability!

August 24th, 2017

What’s hot?

Less than half (48%) of leaders were viewed as accountable in a recent study by Lee Hecht Harrison. And, only 27% of respondents reported a strong leadership culture in their organization.

So what?

When there is a lack of accountability, productivity plummets, employee dissatisfaction rises, blaming increases, self-serving behaviors rise and creativity decreases. Damned costly!

What to do?

Start with a clear understanding of the difference between being responsible and being accountable:

• When you are accountable, the buck stops with you. You own the result. Being accountable not only means being responsible for the result but also ultimately being answerable for your actions. That means you “own it” when something fails and you share the credit when it succeeds. Without accountability, no one can be held responsible.

• When you are responsible, you deliver results. However, you may share that responsibility with others.

Five actions that can distinguish you as an accountable leader:

1. Be Purposeful: develop your own “mission” statement. Why are you in your job, what do you value and what is the difference you want to make? Example:
What I do is not work. It is the fulfillment of my passion to help people unleash their full leadership potential. I believe the best thing I can do is to work diligently, show up as my word, and to honor everyone I encounter with respect, deep listening, constructive candor and an open mind.
(Note: I’ve asked each member of my staff to develop their own mission statement.)

2. Set clear, unambiguous expectations for yourself and your direct reports. Ensure that people do not have the same functional responsibilities or own the same goals. Things fall through the cracks when multiple people are accountable, expectations are not clear and roles not clearly delineated.

3. Follow-up. We are all good at setting goals and developing action plans. We even establish metrics for measuring progress. And then we don’t! When you fail to track progress, you are not holding yourself – nor others – accountable and it creates the perception that you are not treating people equitably.

4. Be Direct. Non-verbal messages of dissatisfaction (eye rolling, unhappy looks, etc.) do not promote accountability. Avoid subtle signals and be specific about shortfalls (your own or those of others). Be crystal clear about what needs to happen to get back on track.

5. Resist the impulse to fix something that is another’s responsibility – even though it appears to be faster and less of a hassle. When you take on the responsibility of others, you contribute to a cycle of poor performance and lack of accountability.

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