Accountability for performance the final step in The Leadership Pledge
First, I’d like to thank everyone I’ve heard from regarding this column. From CEOs to small-business owners to stay-at-home moms, the feedback you’ve shared as to how the columns have benefitted you has been generous and kind.
During the past seven months, in the context of this monthly column, I’ve introduced The Leadership Pledge. This model applies to virtually every aspect of life, from business to home, from community to playing field, from church to volunteer associations. In short, the pledge declares that “in all things, behavior drives results.” As described in my book, the lessons learned and the truths associated with The Leadership Pledge are simple to understand, yet profound in terms of potential results.
A quick review of the model tells us that we first must recruit employees who have a high probability of success. Then we must provide them with the tools to do their job and tell them what we expect. Finally, we have to share honest feedback with them. You can see how these steps are universal for every leadership position, be it a boss, teacher, coach or parent.
So what’s left? We asked ourselves that same question as our company continued its journey to find a better way to do business. Amazingly, the conclusion was simple and straightforward — we had run out of things to do. Or more specifically, that was the extent of the preparation: find good people, equip them, define the goals and regularly meet with them to discuss their progress. The final step: People must accept accountability for their performance. It was a defining moment in the process.
It’s not hard to imagine the setting. Individually and organizationally, everyone has agreed that “X” is the goal. The right people, the right tools and the right standards of excellence have been identified and adopted. The long-term survival, sustainability and success of the organization now rests upon everyone hitting their marks. Accountability therefore becomes the fifth and final step.
I believe anyone worth their salt wants that kind of relationship, to grow and prosper as part of a team committed to exemplary performance. It is our behavior, upholding by our standards of excellence, excelling in regards to specific benchmarks that defines success.
But it’s a paradox. Regardless of whether the other person in a relationship is an employee, a peer, a customer, a supplier, a life-partner or your teenage child, you can’t ask them to be accountable and responsible for their behavior until you’ve accepted accountability and responsibility as a leader for managing your half of the relationship.
One of the biggest obstacles we encounter in any relationship, professional or personal, is defining roles and relationships. Many leaders tend to over-manage relationships in a well-intentioned, but ultimately doomed, effort to get others to be “just like me,” especially in difficult times. We too often fail to recognize the most important lessons for all of us as leaders is you only get what you want when you help others get what they want.
The key concept is “helping others get what they want.” Not what you want. Not what you may think they want. This is where sharing feedback is crucial. Many leaders fail to recognize that not everyone is working toward the same intrinsic rewards.
The issue of accountability and responsibility should be simple and straightforward. But when there is no clear definition of roles and responsibilities, it is near impossible to manage outcomes. When we become uncertain about what we’re supposed to do and how we’re expected to go about attaining those goals we become doubtful and unfocused. That was true 25 years ago and certainly is true today.
So, you can take heart in this truth: If professional respect is part of your standards of excellence, and everyone knows they are accountable for maintaining correct and appropriate behaviors herein as well as consistently delivering on their individual responsibilities, you are fulfilling your role as leader of a healthy, productive and successful organization.
Pete Luongo is retired president and CEO of The Berry Co., Leader, Lecturer, Public Speaker and Author of “10 Truths About Leadership … It’s Not Just About Winning”. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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