Episode 8 – Accountability

Welcome to episode 8 of the ELC podcast.  I am your host and intentional leader, Rob Fisher, coming to you from the AEROhp.com Studios in the FIT Center for Excellence, here in Concord, NC!
In the last episode, we described the sixth attribute of the ELC – Commitment.  I hope listeners immediately used some of the recommendations at the end of the podcast to start making changes in their intentional leadership. By now, you should have downloaded the E-Colors app and are using that information to manage your strengths and potential limiters in your day-to-day interactions. In this episode, I am going to discuss the next attribute of the essential leadership cycle – Accountability. Oh yeah – we FINALLY got there! I know some of you have been waiting, heck, some of you have already made comments like – where is accountability in all this?  Or one of the reasons I struggle with HOP is there is no accountability in it.  Well, that is just not true – but what may be true is that the leaders in your organization (see what I did there?) may not fully understand the interaction of HOP and accountability, based on what we know from over 25 years fo deploying and integrating HOP concepts.
When I talk to leadership teams, and even leaders individually, they tend to think that accountability falls at each component of the essential leadership cycle. Most especially when I ask them to place where MOST organizations would put accountability in the cycle, they answer “near the front”. So by that logic – Self and team awareness – going to hold you accountable. Shared vision and values – going to hold you accountable. Clarity of roles and processes – say it with me… going to hold you accountable. But here is what we have observed from our over 25 years of experience in this field…In high-performing organizations (and we have seen a lot of them over the years), you almost never hear the leaders talk about accountability. Now does this mean these high-performing organizations don’t have accountability?  No – in fact, they are among the MOST accountable organizations and individuals. I am accountable to myself and you, you are accountable to me, we are accountable to the organization and the process and we are all accountable for the outcomes. But in every case, I can remember that accountability was DEVELOPED not DEMANDED. But – and you have to be the honest judge of your organization here, in almost EVERY organization that we have seen that believes they struggle with accountability – they talk about it all the time. The leaders complain about it – the workforce complains about it – they bring in a new leader with a bigger iron fist to put some accountability into the organization. Those people tend to last a few years at most, then they move on (we won’t even talk about what that does to an organization), and some even replace that person with an even heavier handed manager because the first one obviously couldn’t solve this pesky accountability problem with the workforce. I have seen management teams wholesale changed out because a senior manager didn’t think they had enough accountability, It is actually pretty sad if you think about it the number of lives that are adversely impacted because of a leader misunderstanding and misapplication of accountability. Leaders who confuse accountability with discipline cause more harm than good. The essential leadership cycle, if done correctly and in order, organically develops strong individual and organizational accountability – and very quickly.
Having good roles, responsibilities, accountabilities, and authorities developed and adhered to, infuses accountability into its organizations, processes, and individuals. Intentional leaders define their culture. If a leader is accountable – then they can ask the team and the individuals to be accountable. The intentionality of the leader needs to be around the values, processes, and behaviors that exhibit their own accountability FIRST. It amazes me the number of times that I have seen leaders want to hold someone accountable for something they empowered the individual to do – but they didn’t ensure that the individual was ENABLED to do it. Empowerment is a great first step, don’t get me wrong, but it isn’t enough. If you use the science-based understanding of the HOP concepts related to performance modes if the organization hasn’t taught people how to recognize when they are in knowledge-based performance mode where the error rate is as high as 50%, then they may have empowered them (and expected them) to stop work when they are unsure, but they haven’t ENABLED them to. Trying to hold people accountable for things that you haven’t enabled them to do starts to deteriorate trust and commitment. It can also be tied back to a self and team awareness and shared vision and value issue.
So what can you do? Use your intentionality as a leader to really understand, in other words, become self and team aware – what accountability is, where it resides on the essential leadership cycle, why it is there, and how YOU can ensure it is used effectively. Verify someone has been enabled before you jump to wanting to hold them accountable. Intentionally provide personal accountability to the processes YOU use as well and the outcomes you get. Be the leader that LEADS, instead of the leader that is looking for someone or something to blame. Until next time…this has been your host, Rob Fisher. Thanks for listening, and, remember Intentional Leadership starts with YOU!
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