Whether you’re the CEO of your own company or a mid-level to senior executive in a large corporation, how you behave is more important than what you say. Accountability begins with you. If you’re not accountable to yourself and your team, don’t expect your team to be accountable to you. Your behavior speaks much louder than words.
Many business owners and executives come to me as an executive coach seeking to improve their performance as a leader. Once we agree on what they’re going to work on, part of my role is that of an accountability partner who can check in regularly to ensure that they’re doing what they said they’d do.
One of the issues that frequently arises is how they can improve the accountability and performance of their teams. My book, Inspire Accountability, out on April 9th on Amazon, provides a process of inquiry I call the 7Cs to identify why employees aren’t more accountable and what’s driving their behavior. These same 7Cs can provide a leader with guidance on why they may be having a hard time holding themselves accountable for their commitments to themselves and others and how they can improve their accountability.
This is the first of a series of on how you as a leader can apply the 7Cs to improve your accountability and become a more effective leader:
The 7Cs: Culture, Clarity, Capacity, Competence, Confidence, Commitment, Compensation.
C#1 - Culture – How does the culture of your company impact accountability? I believe a culture that makes it safe for people to speak their mind and be vulnerable and honest with each other is essential to the creation of high-performance teams.
Is it safe in your company for you, the leader, to be vulnerable? Can you say you don’t know how to do something or that you made a mistake or that you aren’t sure of the answer? Can you ask for help?
If you’re not vulnerable, your team won’t feel safe being vulnerable with you and you won’t know when they can’t do something or don’t want to do something, or think your request is a bad idea. The more human and approachable you are, the easier it is for people to be real with you and share their thoughts and concerns. So, how does this impact your accountability? If you need to be strong and have all the answers, and you’re afraid to ask for help or say you aren’t sure of how to get something done, sooner or later you’ll find yourself unable to do something you’ve committed to and you won’t feel comfortable asking for help. You’ll maintain a strong external image and fail to accomplish the task on time or to the desired standard of excellence.
Part of a healthy culture is moving from no excuses to no surprises. What this means for you as a leader is that when you are experiencing difficulty accomplishing a task you committed to doing, you are better off sharing your challenges with your team so they are able to help you than keeping the challenge to yourself and then surprising them with your inability to accomplish the task you committed to doing. Just as you want your team to keep you informed of roadblocks and things that may interfere with the accomplishment of their tasks, you want to do the same for your team. Keep them in the loop so they know what you are wrestling with and how they can help.
Integrity is at the heart of leadership. When a leader walks his talk, others will follow his example. When a leader is a role model for the core values of a company, employees really believe those core values matter. And, when leaders think that everyone needs to be accountable except for them, they send the wrong message and don’t get the accountability they desire from their team. Remember, your accountability is the key to their accountability.