Butler University made it to the championship game of the NCAA Basketball Tournament and almost won the whole tournament. What really impressed me was the way that Butler University coach, Brad Stevens communicated with his team. In the locker room, before the game, he said six words I’ll never forget. “Be a great teammate. Be accountable.” What a powerful concept. Be a great teammate. In other words, support the other people around you. Be part of the whole. Don’t look to excel as an individual but look to make the team as a whole better than it would otherwise be.
Does that mean that sometimes you have to take the ball and shoot it? Does that mean that sometimes you have to take that project on your shoulders and make sure that it gets done? Absolutely. But to the degree that you can help the others around you be successful, to the degree that you can help them grow as individuals, then your department and your organization will grow as a whole. Being a great teammate is key to organizational growth and great leadership.
And what about be accountable? Many times, when I talk about accountability, my clients think about being able to stand up and say, okay, it was my fault. I messed up and it won’t happen again. And yes, that is part of accountability but I believe that accountability is your competitive advantage. I believe that accountability should be applied proactively, not reactively. It’s not just about being accountable when something goes wrong. It’s about knowing what you’re accountable for so that it goes right.
I believe in five accountabilities and the first of those five accountabilities is that we are accountable to do the right things consistently. I’m not talking morally right which we always need to do. What I’m talking about is that we need to know what are the fundamentals. What are the tactics that we need to apply daily, weekly, monthly in order to achieve our strategic intent? For the basketball team to be successful on the court, it’s not just being accountable when you miss a basket but it is knowing that you’re accountable to make the pass, that you’re accountable to set the pick. And in business, we need to know what we’re accountable for too, whether we’re in sales or whether we’re in the C-suite.
Be a great teammate and be accountable. That’s part of being a leader and growing your business.