Time Out!

April 19, 2013

accountabilityA kick in the gut is how I felt Monday evening when I was informed of the bombings in Boston.  Then my thoughts went to family, friends and business associates who live in or near Boston, or who might have been running in the Boston Marathon.  I am thankful no one who I knew was involved, as far as I know, but absolutely crushed for the victims who either died or experienced unwelcomed personal trauma.  I experienced tremendous American pride to those first responders who ran towards the chaos in order to help.  I often wonder, even with training, would I have been so brave.

The events in Boston this week remind us that we can never predict the events in our lives that we may face.  We only can control our positive responses to impact or influence a positive outcome.  Finally, allow events such as the bombings in Boston to give us a true and fresh perspective on our personal and business stresses.  Stop sweating the small stuff…


This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody.

There was an important job to be done and Everybody was asked to do it. Everybody was sure Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

Sound familiar… Smile!

In my coaching, holding others accountable is a major topic when talking about the execution gap. The gap between what is promised or committed to and then what is actually realized.  The temptation as a leader is to fall into one of two extremes.  On one hand, we make demands and institute controls; this is the Level II leader who communicates top down.  Or we go to the other extreme where whatever happens is meant to be if you provide the right environment, show belief and give them a fine reputation to live up to and then just let it happen.  Both extremes, chaos to compliance, will produce short term results but neither will produce long term sustainable results.  Not only have I read about it, I have tried both methods repeatedly in the past 20 years.

So what is the answer?

Level V Leadership – A leader who is determined to change the culture of their organization and dares to lead with inspiration, positive motivation, encouragement and appreciation.  Then as Jim Collins writes in his bestselling book, “Good to Great” a Level V Leader leads with an unwavering will, steeped in humility.  This leader must always manage expectations by continually communicating through clear performance standards.  What good looks while empowering the individual with the appropriate boundaries to see, own, and when necessary, solve problems; then execute a clear path to the desired outcomes.  Note:  Performance standards do have consequences… ouch!  We do everything we can to help the individual we are leading to be successful in achieving the desired outcomes … but let’s be clear that expectations are real, as well as, consequences to failed outcomes.

Last week I was working with an executive team and it was agreed that there was “zero accountability” until the following four questions were asked, answered and accepted by all:

  1. Who’s got it?
  2. What needs to be done?
  3. When will it be completed?
  4. When will it next be communicated to those who need to know?

Bottom line …. Everybody needs to be 100% accountable!  If not, somebody will remind anybody who will listen that nobody won.

Human Relations Principle of the Week:

Put enthusiasm into your work.

–       Dale Carnegie

Send to Kindle

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *