Be Accountable First

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I must have been asked a thousand times, “How do I hold them accountable?” I must have heard a thousand times, “They just don’t do what they say they’re going to do.” I must have been told a thousand times, “If they’re not going to be accountable to me then I’m not going to be accountable to them.”

Clients tell me they want their people to be more accountable and they want to hold their people more accountable. Clients want to know how to achieve this. The leaders want some tips. They want to know the skill sets. There is frustration in their voice. The company might not be performing up to standard or just might want to perform at a higher level. Ultimately someone realizes accountability needs to be a cornerstone of their organizational culture.

Our studies show that many times leadership is looking for something first, before they are willing to provide it in return. It may be trust, it may be transparency, or it may be accountability. This might seem like the intuitive way to act, but actually it is the exact opposite of what we should be doing.

We need to trust others first if we can expect them to trust us. If we don’t trust everyone around us, then they will be busy “protecting” themselves rather then focusing on the best possible results and trusting us through that process. Most of us are wary of people who don’t trust us. Well, the people around us are the same.

If we are open and transparent with the people in our family or on our team they will feel safe being open and transparent with us.

If we are accountable to everyone around us they will want to be accountable to us.

In all cases it starts with us first. In all cases it starts with us treating others the way we want them to treat us. It starts with us setting and living to a higher standard. Those we lead and serve will emulate the examples we set.

And, it is not just about “holding” people accountable. As true leaders we need to think about “helping” people be accountable. There is a big difference between the two. The first just sounds punitive. Accountability isn’t a consequence. When we help someone be accountable we are coming from a place of service. We are seeking to help them succeed and we understand that the teams’ success and our success are based on the success of those around us.

Every time we choose to be accountable to the people around us we help them be better, we help them achieve their goals and we help them be successful. When we are accountable to them first, more times then not they are going to be accountable right back to us. And that’s what we’re looking for in the first place.

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