Key Point: I think many managers (not leaders) like the idea of holding people accountable. It’s like their inner voice and ego zeros in on that part of their job description that states in bold: “Ensure that people meet your expectations and their commitments.” So, what do these managers often do in the spirit of applying confusing terms like “performance management?” They grind on their team by micro managing, over inspecting, hovering, threatening, and applying other so called “accountability methods.” Then, what eventually happens? People working for these so called “performance supervisors” usually become tentative, fearful, and ultimately produce worse results. Of course, the chest pounding, tough-minded “accountability manager” proudly announces to all who might listen: “I told you I would hold them accountable.” So, they eventually get rid of the “under performer.” Predictably, not too much later, they repeat the process. The manager builds their brand as a tough-minded, performance driven boss, when in fact, that mindset and behavior is so archaic and misguided that it is practically shameful.
Here’s another thought. What if we applied inspiration as the vehicle for self-accountability? When I look for people to get better results, I like the idea of having them aspire to make things 10x better, rather than grinding them on whether they have completed incremental tasks. Furthermore, what if we deepened relationships with each other to the point of never wanting to let each other down? If these two elements are in full flight, the idea of accountability leadership is very much forward moving. Why would I have to hold people accountable when I know they are inspired to “jet up 10x”AND never let me OR their teammates down? When these forward thinking accountability principles drive contributions, a leader’s role is to serve rather than hound. This is more than semantic differentiation. In my view, it’s a completely different approach to accountability and much more rewarding for all involved.
- Be an inspiration rather than an inspector. Do you inspire or inspect your team’s accountability? If it’s the latter, I hope you don’t work for us. All inspection (while occasionally necessary), is essentially wasteful. There is a difference when people seek coaching versus you trying to catch them screwing up.
- Establish an accountability care bank. Care so much for people that work for and with you, in the most authentic way, so that they will never want to let you down and vice versa. When relationships deepen to embrace mutual personal concern and respect, holding people accountable takes on a much different context. In this way, “hold” means to cherish. A richer, more forward view of accountability emerges because we would never intentionally let each other down.
Forward accountability in The Triangle,
One Millennial View: If you’ve ever watched a military documentary (and I’ve watched quite a few), you may have noticed a common theme. When soldiers are asked why they fight, they have little concern for themselves, and simply say they’re fighting for the brothers and sisters next to them. All ranks. If they don’t do their job, it could have serious consequences on those they’re fighting with. It’s understood the feeling is reciprocated. Now, a cubicle is about as far as you can get from a foxhole, but this is a mentality that us civilians can give serious consideration.
Edited and published by Garrett Rubis