How Top Leaders Create
Leaders are always searching for ways to increase accountability to get the results they need. My advice is to start by defining your role when it comes to delivering results. Simply put, the leader's job is to ensure every member of the team wins, and winning is defined as meeting the organization's top objectives. I only wish someone would have explained this to me earlier in my career. The reason this is so powerful is due in part to the inherent quid pro quo. Throughout my career one of the best ways I've found to help people win is to establish an accountability-based culture focused on producing results, not activities. Here is the seven-step formula you can use to create accountability and achieve extraordinary results in any organization:
Effective communication drives results. This means being direct and forthright with people in every conversation, letting them know where they stand, what's needed from them, and when it is needed. Often good leaders can become great leaders by reshaping the way they talk. Here's how it works. When you make a request of someone, take a little extra time to explain why you are making it. Put it in context and explain why it's important to the goals of the business. Then the person can provide a more robust solution because she understands the purpose of the task and how the information will be used.
Last but not least, don't forget to ask what the person needs in order to complete the task. This approach removes excuses, reduces rework, and is a great way to build relationships. It's also a great way to develop future leaders by increasing responsibility and encouraging decision making and creativity. By holding others accountable, you are teaching them to accept responsibility. Remember, making and meeting commitments is one of the best ways to build trust. So treat commitments as promises and watch how results improve.
Here's an easy test to determine the level of accountability in your organization. Just listen to the conversation going on in meetings. Is conversation directed toward commitment? Are individuals talking about what is important and what will and won't get done? Are they making requests of one another and asking for commitments? Or do conversations stray to generalities, vagueness, rationalization, and missed expectations?
Do you have people who constantly talk about how hard they work, how many hours they put in, how little vacation they take; yet you wonder what they actually produce? If so, most often these people are focused on activities instead of results. They will continue to do this as long as your culture condones this behavior. Ask yourself this important question - Do you care how hard people work, or what they get done? Top performing organizations prefer the latter.
A group is performing well when they talk about actual results, not the activities and hurdles along the way. When team members hold themselves accountable, you hear responsibility in their conversations. They ask one another for help in order to get on track. There are no victims, excuses, or concerns over a lack of knowledge. Instead they are searching for the knowledge and support they need from everyone around the table to reach the company's goals.
Accountable leaders work diligently to maintain company-wide focus on the achievement of management's most critical business goals and to see these goals become results.
When everyone is focused on achieving the organization's top objectives, every employee should be able to answer yes to the question, Did my actions today move the company closer to achieving our most critical business goals?
Actions to take now!
Start getting results immediately by taking these ten actions now:
I pledge to you that if you act on these directions, you will achieve extraordinary results you may never have thought possible.
Bob Prosen is President and CEO of The Prosen Center for Business Advancement (www.bobprosen.com). He has been delivering exceptional business results for more than a quarter-century, first as an successful agent of transformation at a variety of major and mid-sized U.S. corporations, and lately as a consultant, educator and speaker working with leaders of organizations in business, government and not-for-profit arenas.
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Many more articles in Creative Leadership in The CEO Refresher Archives