Good leaders set an example of accountability. They embrace the concept of doing what they say they will to do. And they want people to watch them do what they say they will do. The core of the word accountability is “count.” Followers keep score of how often their leaders do what they say they will do.
Why then, is “accountability” the dirty “A-word” in many enterprise cultures? Through coaching, I’ve learned that the quest for accountability means dealing fear. Its not necessarily severe consequences like “losing my job.” The simplest fear is setting clear goals: the ‘what’ by ‘when’ type of goals. When we set clear goals, others can have an “accounting” of our work.
This morning I helped shape a leadership program for a high-performing collegiate Soccer team. They are seeking more personal accountability on and off the field as a way to increase their chances for a national title.
The main fear senior leaders face is like the polarities on a magnet: they hope that a clear accounting will pull people together — but they fear that inspecting goals will act like two negative forces that push people apart.
The victory for this team will be in seeing that accountability is about celebration. When we set “what by when” goals, we are creating an opportunity to celebrate and reward people who do what they say they are going to do. And in the times when people can’t get “what by when” done…we’ll rally around them and help them start anew tomorrow.
Stay tuned for updates on the Soccer team who wants to achieve greater ‘personal accountability.”