Some people achieve extraordinary things in life; others do not. The difference between the two groups lies in accountability.
True story: Early in the Minnesota Twins 2009 exhibition season, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire discovered a note on his desk from Justin Morneau, his star first baseman. It read: “Gardy: I forgot to run sprints after the workouts yesterday; I am fining myself.” Next to the note was a hundred-dollar bill.
Was Justin Morneau accountable because he was a superstar, or was he a superstar because he was accountable?
There are five accountabilities that when applied proactively can turn accountability from a consequence into your competitive advantage.
Right things: Be accountable for doing the right things. This means ethical execution of the activities that will actually support the goals you have chosen for yourself. If you are managing a team, you must model this skill by doing the right things yourself; you must then empower each member of your team to identify his or her own right things, and you must be willing to communicate about what’s working and what isn’t in an open, transparent way at all times.
New space: Be accountable for managing your space for new opportunities. This means being willing to step away from things that are working, even though they may be familiar, to make room for something that may work better. Yes, this is a risk, but it’s one that successful people take—because the return can be positive for the whole enterprise.
Process: Be accountable for managing the process when you hit an obstacle. It is inevitable that you will encounter adversities and setbacks when you pursue your goals. The question is, how will the adversities and setbacks affect you? Will they keep you from making creative new approaches to attain your goal?
Expectations: Be accountable for establishing the right expectations. The targets you set for yourself will have a huge impact on your actual achievement. How will you set the targets for yourself and your team? Will you set them based on what is familiar or what is possible? Will you set them too high, too low, or in that ideal zone where the goal is a healthy stretch?
Relationships: Be accountable for your relationships and your contributions to them. The human touch in any relationship is the “lubricant” that makes communication possible and empowers individuals, groups, and organizations to accomplish great things. Without accountability for supporting and contributing to the relationship, there can be no true leadership, and no effective implementation, at the group or organizational level, of any of the other accountabilities.
Appling the five accountabilities in your life and in your organization will allow you to create an accountability zone in which you are the center and creates a culture of accountability within your organization. Make accountability your competitive advantage.