Accountability has become an overused buzzword. I hear it as a mechanism to measure performance – are we accountable to our goal? I hear it as a feedback tool – I expected you to achieve/solve/develop that. I’d like you to consider how accountability bifurcates – it’s about results and behavior. While we are comfortable measuring the result, are we equally comfortable measuring behavior?
Recently I was facilitating a conversation with a leadership team where I suggested removing technology from the tables and the pockets. The response was, “that’s not our culture”. In other words, we encourage the continuous partial attention of our people (behavior). From a strategic level, we encourage mediocrity. The senior leader in the room challenged the group – “is that the culture we want” – to which any number of explanations were offered about the importance of each individual and their need for technology access. The discussion dropped. A lost opportunity in that moment, a coaching opportunity later when I pressed the senior leader about his decision to let it go. “It won’t change anyway and they have good reasons.”
Accountability is like that. When your mind says, “I’m not the parent, I’m the boss”, there is likely a place to consider the behavior you have noticed as lacking and the accountability to proper interaction as you desire. What conversation can you have that brings forward accountability to the culture you want, regardless of the culture you have? Your next level leaders take note of your decisions and act accordingly. If you bravely demand and account for presence in your meetings, then your direct reports feel supported in doing the same. Set the tone, which becomes the culture.