In recent years, I have noticed an increase of living in a blameless society. Everywhere you look you see painted yellow lines indicating where you can or cannot walk! Signs warning of hot liquids in coffee cups! Political correctness left to run riot and when it comes to reprimanding someone, we are on a different subject all together.
Common sense appears to have been pushed to one side and replaced by other people being held accountable for the action or direction of an individual through strict, unbendable ruling. We appear less and less to be able to do what our gut tells us is right. We live by signs telling us there may be issues with taking control ourselves. But this is counterproductive to the way we, as humans, progress.
I have written many a feature about Leadership qualities but accountability should be about individuals owning and being accountable for their own actions without always having to be told or guided.
In coaching, we use the Circle of Concern vs Circle of Influence model. Particularly around confidence building and being held accountable for our own actions.
With the latter being placed inside the former. Showing that if we allow concern to be the dominant factor, then our influence is diminished. However, if we take charge of our situation, our influence will flourish having an effect on lowering levels of concern.
Studies show the most effective organisations are those where individuals/teams feel like they have influence and influence can only be brought about by a sense of being held accountable.
That said, let us now look at how best to hold people accountable for their own actions, or, better yet, give them control over decisions to have accountability which gives them empowerment. We have an acronym for this, D.I.R.E.C.T.
(D)Direction – Set a clear vision and the direction a person should follow. Ambiguity has no place as this leads to ownership falling in someone else’s lap. If people are given too many points to head towards, the likelihood is they will never achieve any, well, not to their full potential.
(I)Integrity – Work to an environment of integrity over ass covering! By this I mean that if a task hasn’t been achieved, do not first look to reprimand but establish the reasons behind how it has been managed. Accountability rises as a result of developing courage to tell the truth rather than simply what the other person may want to hear.
(R)Results – Offer clear definition of what you or the organisation requires. In sales, this may be a given target to achieve. In production it may be the number of Gizwots per week etc. With regards HOW they get there or the means by which they deliver, an element of autonomy needs to be given too.
(E)Expertise – Being given the skills to do a job is paramount to individuals becoming accountable. If there is confusion, lack of understanding or support, then people will not feel accountable as they do not have the expertise to carry out the task. Training, coaching, or teaching people the skills they require gives confidence to handle the responsibility of becoming accountable.
(C)Communicate – “Assumptions are unopened windows that foolish birds fly into, and their broken bodies are evidence gathered too late.” (Bryan Davis). Without clear communication, assumption’s tentacles reach out and take hold. As a leader, insure people know what they are accountable for and establish two way communications to alleviate any queries or doubts as to what is required.
(T)Trust – As a leader, consider how staff look to you. Insure your motives are clear so no questions need be raised. Reward efforts, not just the achievements. Refrain from taking advantage of people, easy done when someone consistently out performs others! And give credit where credit is due, ie don’t take someone else’s but raise them up, it will also reflect well on you. These do not necessarily represent accountability but they do represent trust which enables the other factors to flourish.
This is but the start to developing a sense of accountability. Another great tool to help improve ownership is coaching which helps individuals become accountable as we address the barriers to succeeding. Establish the best way to handle it and formulate an action plan to achieve the objective. All the way along the path is to be clear and focused on the end. Whether you attempt to coach people internally or bring an expert in, coaching helps build the confidence to handle accountability.
If you are looking to go beyond this first level and wish to improve levels of accountability, contact Neil on 07761 187238 or email firstname.lastname@example.org where you’ll be assured a warm welcome to discuss how we can help. You’ll get a better understanding of Neil too by watching our interview video at https://youtu.be/RvCwOL4hPco