We all know that success, after all, depends on positive results. We can have a brilliant process, a solid structure, and a great team. But if at the end of the day we are not achieving the ambitioned goals, there is an obvious problem somewhere.
In many cases, this problem is directly related to a failure on the standards of accountability. According to the Landmark Workplace Study, 85 per cent of the professional surveyed missed clarity on the company expected results, 93 per cent were unable to align their work or take accountability for desired results with an 84 per cent blaming leaders’ behavior as the single most crucial factor influencing responsibility in their organizations.
Accountability requires a personal understanding of our own role and responsibilities, our individual performance goals, including standards to measure success, our major obstacles to fulfilling responsibilities and the needs and means we required to successfully perform.
Accountability means responsible behaviour. And it is fully required at every single organizational level. However, at a basic level, accountability is often misunderstood by leaders who relate it to them but not to themselves.
Effective leaders at all levels understand the importance of two-way accountability and act accordingly. They never look for scapegoats as they make themselves fully accountable for their team’s success. These are the five basic rules of accountability, followed by them.
- Leaders take full responsibility for decisions
Positive results depend greatly on the right choices. And right decisions relays on a precise specification of who is accountable for carrying it out (roles), when it must be implemented (clear deadlines), who will be affected by it and who must be informed about it. Trouble is ensured whenever these bases are not covered.
Effective leaders regularly review decisions, especially all those ones related to hires and promotions. Regular review mechanisms facilitate a proper track of them and enough time of reaction to amend any possible poor decision before the damage gets too big.
- Leaders take responsibility for communication
Effective leaders make sure that their decisions and action plans are clearly understood. The same way, they are aware of the importance of listening to superiors, subordinates and peers. They make clear the information, inputs, and results they expect. When misunderstandings occur, they do not focus on the negative role played by their team members but on their role in miscommunicating their message. Accountable leaders take ownership of negative results. While not tolerating nonperforming individuals, they make themselves responsible for the positive performance of those around them. They listen first and speak last.
- Leaders always think and say, “We” instead of “I”
Eighty two per cent of the surveyed professionals by the Landmark Workplace Study reported failing on making others accountable. Without a sense of trust and team-work, there is no way employees align deliberately to leaders’ authority. Making people obey an order doesn’t imply positive results. Making people accountable does.
The kind of positive authority that makes people feel responsible comes from the leader’s team trust in them. Earning this competent authority come many times hand to hand with tiny gestures such as think and say “We” instead of “I.” According to the American Psychological Association’s 2016 Work and Well-Being Survey, workers are more motivated to work hard when they feel valued. Ninety-five percent of respondents who said they feel valued by their employer said they felt motivated to do their best.
- Leaders run effective meetings
Effective and accountable leaders care about resources. They start and finish on time because they feel responsible for peoples’ time and efforts. They know meetings should be a process towards higher productivity, honest communication, stronger team building, and better results. And they respect it. Meetings are a needed tool for accountable results. For quality standards, they should always be articulated around a clear purpose and followed-up with a transparent summarizing email with work assignments and deadlines.
- Leaders transform problems into constructive feedback
Accountability is incorrectly perceived as strictly consequential and almost entirely after-the-fact. Eighty per cent of those surveyed say feedback is something that happens to them only when things go wrong or not at all. But constructive feedback is essential at all levels and all stages. Things can always be better done. And accountability is a process through improvement until perfection. Effectiveness is a discipline that can be learned and must be earned.