Sunday, October 23, 2011

Are You Accountable?

You get up every morning.  You go to work.  You may even put in a longer day than most.

But are you accountable?  And to what?

Do you set goals and achieve them?  Do you deliver results?  Or are you just going through the motions?

I'm reading a great book by Denny Strigl, former CEO of Verizon called, Managers, can you hear me now?

Strigl, who transformed Verizon into the nation's #1 wireless carrier, says there is only ONE THING that will drive results in your business (and I would argue your life) and that is ACCOUNTABILITY.

Everyone says they want results. 

"We want to raise more money this year."  "We want to diversify our revenue."  "We want to create real value for our employees, clients and donors."  "I want to find a good partner."  "I want to eat healthier."  " I want to work out."

But if you dig a little deeper, you often find that there is NO PLAN in place to achieve these righteous results and worse, no one is ACCOUNTABLE for getting the job done.  No wonder that weeks, months and sometimes years go by with organizations and individuals stuck in the status quo.

On the other hand, I know many people and organizations that THRIVE in an environment where everyone is accountable to daily, weekly, and monthly results.  These individuals appreciate the transparency and clarity of organizational and personal goals and willingly step up every day to OWN their part of the puzzle.  

Why the difference?  And how can you create more accountability in yourself and others?
  1. Be willing to fail.  It sounds counter-intuitive, but unless you are willing to take the risk of looking stupid or messing up, you are unlikely to embrace accountability.  Being responsible for a task, process, or policy is hard work (some people won't like you) and things don't always work out as planned.  But if you are willing to fail and to fail fast, then it doesn't matter if the road you choose leads to a dead end.  Part of being accountable means owning your failure and success. 
  2. Be willing to make decisions.  Accountable people are willing to say what they feel and do what they say!  I can't tell you how much I personally ADMIRE this trait in others.  You should gather data and ask for feedback, but at some point you have to press GO!  Be decisive.  Be willing to make a decision and see if it bears fruit.
  3. Be proactive.  Accountable people try to get ahead of the mess.  Because they take ownership of and responsibility for their work, they are always on the lookout for ways to improve and make things better.  This means knowing that SHIT happens and finding ways to avoid it vs. waiting for it to hit the fan.
  4. Don't play the blame game.  This is the most unproductive and unattractive trait at work and at home.  Don't do it.  Nuff said!
  5. Be confident.  It may sound silly but unless you believe in yourself and your own ability to affect change in your work and in the world, you'll never enjoy being accountable for tangible results.   Like the cowardly lion, you'll want to hide and you'll be wary of activities that put you in the spotlight.  Having confidence is the cure.  Believe in your abilities.  Believe in the good stuff that people say about you and be willing to act.  No one says you have to be perfect.  But you do have to show up and do your best.
I see too many organizations and people looking for change in the world without putting in the hard work to make it happen.  And it occurs to me that this is not because people lack good intentions, it's because they lack a practice of accountability.

Consider setting goals for yourself this week and working diligently to achieve them.  Want to write a blog post?  Write it!  Want to update your homepage?  Update it!  Want to ask for a raise?  Ask for it!

Practice accountability. 

Say what you want and do what you say. 

If you hold your feet to the fire, you'll boost your self confidence and you'll probably see the results you covet.  Either way, you'll be setting yourself up to grow.




eclaire said...

I agree, Jocelyn, that accountability is critical to getting results. However, sometimes people may be DECISIVE and PROACTIVE yet not be aligned with the goals (stated or unstated) of the boss. It's difficult to be an implementer of best practices and/or a change agent when the people at the top are unclear whether they want these changes. Sometimes, bosses are really stuck in the status quo. They may have wonderful employees helping them to till the soil and bear delicious new fruits, but they're still content with the previous acreage and the fruit they harvested last year.

So... while accountability is essential to drive results, leadership is equally essential IMHO.

Jocelyn said...

Hi Eclaire,

I couldn't agree more!

Accountability starts at the top with a results-driven board.

You're unlikely to get much movement, if your leaders don't set aspirational goals and work steadily to achieve them. Perhaps you should take your tilling skills somewhere else!


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