Leadership Bootcamp: The buck stops with Accountability

imagesHow do you get results from a physical fitness goal?  While there are many strategies to employ (zumba, weights, running, diet, tennis, etc), the real tactic that works is accountability.  You figure out the consistency factor.   When you follow a good plan and develop the discipline of accountability, results will happen.

Sounds simple right?  But for anyone who has tried to follow a healthy plan consistently, you know it’s tough.  Saying and doing are two different things.  And for leaders, the same truth applies.

In this week’s bootcamp, we tackle the tough skill of accountability.  It’s a muscle, if applied well, will transform your team. So how does it work?

So what is accountability?  One of the best definitions states:  An explicit or implicit agreement between an associate and his/her manager, peers or team to deliver the value expected by the other person(s) with no surprises.

This definition, if broken down, gives every leader a step-by-step roadmap to strengthen this skill.

Explicit of implicit agreement:
Stated or assumed, there is a shared understanding among the team on both what and how we will operate.  Every player knows what is expected.  Effective leaders will tell you to never take a chance on implicit but instead be clear and don’t leave that crucial clarity to chance.

Between an associate and his/her manager, peers or team:
Accountability only works when it includes every relationship on your team and every direction of these relationships – between employee to employee, employee to manager, and manager to employee.  Think about it, what if every single person on your team practiced performance and follow-through?  The sky would be the limit on what this team could achieve.  Why?  Every single person is holding every single person accountable to results.

Deliver the value expected:
When someone receives from you what they expected, direct and indirect benefits emerge.  The direct benefit can be seen in the output of whatever the deliverable is.  But perhaps even more powerful benefits occur indirectly in the trust that builds.  Strong teams are not easily shaken.  And the more value that exists among the team, the stronger the team becomes.

No surprises:
Each component of the definition is critical, but perhaps this last phrase is the distinction between good and great teams.  When a “no surprises” culture exists, a new level of team emerges.  Problems happen, surprises pop up and emergencies will occur.  So when those things occur or approach, communicate early and often to give ample time for those “plan B’s” that must be made.

Four phrases, four critical puzzle pieces that differentiate great leaders and great teams.  So, in the spirit of bootcamp fitness, accept the challenge to introduce (or re-introduce) them to your team this week.  The difference?  Oh…just wait and see.

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