Personal accountability as the leadership quality I am describing is defined as ownership of results good or bad. If the results are good ownership is easy. And good leaders are clear whom the credit goes to and they freely give it. When the results are bad, good leaders own their role and the whole outcome at the same time without faulting, blaming, or guilting others. Good leaders live and demonstrate personal accountability.
To live and demonstrate personal accountability as a foundation for a high-performance leadership team here is what must be in place.
- No manager
- A team leader (this role can rotate depending on the focus of the work)
- Clear goal
- Clear roles updated on going
- A written Clear Agreement
- A written Definition of Success for the task or project
- Individual and collective accountability for the outcome before you start
- A working knowledge of the difference between empowerment and authority
- A clear understanding that team members hold each other accountable and that you can be removed from the team by the team
Here are the agreements about your team culture for your high-performance team to survive and thrive.
- We talk to, not about each other
- No counterproductive “meetings-after-the-meeting”
- No rescue, fixing and saving under performance – we address underperformers as a team
If you are asked to be on a team or call your group a team and you don’t experience these conditions and culture I’ve got news for you, you need a manager who is paid to make sure that you do what you are supposed to. The manager often refers to it as “babysitting”. If each team member is doing what they need to do and inter-depends with the other team members and all agree to hold each other accountable, why do you need a manager?
I liken it to the situation in college when you are assigned a group to complete a paper or a project. Three high performers want the “A” for their transcript when it comes time to apply to graduate school. One dunce that no one picked figures out they can do next to nothing and the high performers will put his or her name on the work they barely contributed to because the professor doesn’t want to hear it and might even say “You will have to deal with non-performers in the real world so figure it out.”
On top of the fact that it is unethical to give someone credit for work they did not do it also rewards them. Yes, it is just like the real world. Your “team” can’t do anything about the dunce that the manager isn’t getting rid of because “HR won’t let me.” These situations are very common which leads me to wonder why there is confusion about why employee engagement is a problem? Who wants to engage in this level of lackluster, low-level nuttiness?
Because I have now experienced so many non-team teams and mass confusion about creating an environment of empowerment for high-performance teams to flourish (which would mean you would need fewer managers) I am completely clear about why “employee engagement” efforts are largely a fool’s errand and Millennials don’t fit in fake team environments.
The leader that knows whether her or his organization needs to be well managed or can be high performance is going to win. Being well managed requires a set of strategies distinctly different from being high performance.
There are many “leaders” out there, especially in entrepreneurial start ups that wish their people were high performance and didn’t need management but my Accountability Assessment Data shows in no uncertain terms, it is rarely the case that the startup team is actually a team. The last thing such a group needs is “team building.” First, put in an understanding of personal accountability as a foundation for the culture…now you have a fighting chance and you simultaneously become much more investable.
What is the one leadership quality that makes you second to none? Personal accountability. You can present your Accountability Score to your next employer just like you present your credit score to your next lender. We’ve been using the Accountability Assessment to inform individuals and groups about their personal accountability level for years. You might not like what you see, but you will definitely know what to do to fix it.