Accountability: It Starts With You….A Message For Leaders
Have you ever thought of yourself not as a leader, but as the executive producer of a movie, and your workplace is the movie set? Every day you have a cast and crew show up and their job is to create a “blockbuster”… a smash hit, so you have more customers, and greater profitability and success.
“It’s not my job, I just work here.” and/or “It’s not my responsibility.”
As leaders, I’m sure you’ve heard all the excuses in the world about people not taking responsibility and not being accountable for the end result. However, many people have told me that they are really confused about exactly what it is that they are supposed to be doing at work. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to be communicating exactly what is supposed to be done. Others may be responsible for getting the work done, but you as the leader are ultimately responsible.
Have you ever considered “accountability extremes”? On the one hand, you’ve got people who take absolutely no ownership, no responsibility, get nothing done, and blame everybody else. On the other hand you’ve got people who can’t help themselves…they have to take responsibility for everything – even other people’s work when it has nothing to do with them!
I once had a sales rep named Jeff. He was an outstanding producer who handed in his sales reports to our administrators in an efficient and timely manner. However, he couldn’t help himself – he kept on interfering with their system! He wanted to manage the entire process, and as a result he ended up frustrating everybody, including himself. Therefore it is worthwhile remembering that in some instances, team members may not realize where accountability starts and ends. That’s why as a leader, it’s your responsibility to communicate the desired end result. You will be more effective when you can explain to people exactly what it is that they are supposed to be doing; no matter how successful or unsuccessful they may ultimately be!
Why is it so difficult for leaders to discuss accountability? This is often due to the manner in which you deliver the message. If you can utilize positive communication more frequently, team members are able to recognize their overall contribution to the “big picture”, as well as to the team. As a result, they feel more empowered and in control of what they need to get done. Ultimately they have success because you have demonstrated trust in their ability to get the work done.
So, let’s sum this up: Giving people responsibility for their own success is the key to creating ownership. Accountability does not have to be communicated in the negative. Use positive language when you’re delegating responsibility. And it is worthwhile remembering that that the way you create the perception of the work that needs to be done is going to impact the way that other people view their responsibilities. It starts with how you see the world, and how you translate your reality to your team!
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