Accountable leadership is a vital component of an organization’s ability to survive and thrive in the increasingly competitive global environment. In my own practice, I am constantly asked for advice on how to make other people more accountable. We, as professionals, normally feel like we follow through and set great examples for what an accountable mindset looks like. It’s everyone else who has the problem with accountability. Yet, when we really look at the behaviors that model accountability, many of us fall short.
Regardless of your role at your organization, here are three behavior changes you can make to model an accountable mindset for your team.
1. Ask for feedback from your supervisor, your peers, and yes, your employees
Everyone needs feedback to grow, develop, and ensure that they are on the right track. If you aren’t getting feedback from multiple perspectives, how will you know what you don’t know? Without the perspective of others, we default to doing what we’ve always done or fail to see the value of alternative paths. If you aren’t getting the feedback you need to facilitate your own growth, it’s your responsibility to ask for it.
When you find someone, who cares enough about you to provide feedback, you are also responsible for really listening to what they have to say. The most impactful feedback I have ever received was difficult to hear. It came from a supervisor that I admired and respected, but who viewed my reaction to a particular business challenge very differently than I did. It took six- weeks for me to fully consider, accept, and appreciate the advice. In hindsight, my willingness to listen and implement her suggestion was a positive turning point in my career. Accountable leaders are responsible for gathering feedback from multiple sources so that they have different perspectives on a situation. They reflect on the information and then make the best decision for the organization, even if it differs from their original plan.
2. Don’t make excuses for decisions that must be implemented
Have you ever had a leader introduce a change by saying, “I don’t think this is a very good decision, but management says we have to do it”? That’s probably not a message that drove you to give 100% effort to the change. Why should you? Even your immediate supervisor said it wasn’t a good idea.
Once a decision has been made, accountable leaders help their team find a way to make the outcome successful. They recognize that they have the responsibility to drive solutions and achieve results by bringing out the best in their team. Focusing on the negative stifles creativity and dooms the project from the very start. Accountable leaders don’t make excuses for why organizations shouldn’t change, but accept the challenge of thinking outside the box and embracing the opportunities to be more efficient, more effective, and more productive as an organization.
3. Scan the horizon for opportunities and threats
Accountable leaders don’t just feel responsible for what is happening today. They take responsibility for the legacy of their team, their group, and their organization. Accountable leaders are constantly scanning the horizon for trends that will provide a competitive advantage. They are looking for environmental themes that suggest future risks. And then, armed with this information, accountable leaders take responsibility for pulling together the right people and right resources. This allows them to create sound strategies that secure the organization’s place in the playing field of the future.
By walking the “accountability-walk” and not just talking the “accountability-talk,” accountable leaders increase the respect that others have for them. Even more importantly, they demonstrate their expectations to their team and move organizations into a position to not just survive, but thrive in the competitive workplace of tomorrow.