Rule #23: Create a Culture of Accountability
Rule number 23, create a culture of accountability. Help your people own their success. Listen, every time I do executive coaching, one of the top topics is how do I create a culture of accountability. Okay, I agree. We want it. We all strive for it. We want our people to accept challenges. We want our people to live up to those challenges that they’ve accepted, right? So I accept the responsibility, and I live up to that responsibility. We want them to do that. But here’s what I found. I think most people want to be responsible, want to be accountable, but there’s a reason why they’re not. Is it a personality flaw? Maybe, maybe.
But often, what you want, you’re not creating an environment which fosters that. You live in a world called don’t do what I do, only do what I say. Listen, you can’t tell your kids not to smoke as you’re going through your second pack at dinner. It doesn’t work, right? They’ll say, “What are you doing? Look at you.” So you have to be congruent. There are two things that I would suggest to you, quick tips. Number one, you’re probably not even aware that you make commitments and don’t live up to them. That’s a problem. So every time you’re in a meeting, don’t leave that meeting without saying, “What commitments were made here today, including my commitments?”
I write down the commitments and who made them and when are we going to get them and I track it. When they know I’m tracking it, then they start to because remember, if you inspect it, then it shall happen, right? Remember the old rule, inspect what you expect, of course, so I write them down. The minute I start doing that, boom, the first light bulb goes off for everybody, and I do the same for mine. I committed to the following. Sales people won’t typically say, “Well, Dave, you committed to this,” so I say, “I committed to this well. I’ll have it done by this.” Now, personally, I strive to get my stuff done ahead of schedule because I want to create that environment of accountability. Yes, but above and beyond. So I do what I want you to do.
The second thing is that you should celebrate success. When somebody steps up to the plate, high five them, “Hey, you’re going to take on that challenge? Awesome. Listen, group. I know that everyone’s got a full-time job. I appreciate Mary. She’s doing a great job.” So celebrate those successes. If you’re congruent, if you live up then they will too. If you fall short, then own it. Own it. There are many times that I have made commitments that I did not live up to. I am human, and I’m going to do it again and again and again. I promise you, that’s one of the things that I will bank on is going to happen. But if I do it, I own it. I say right up front, “My bad. I didn’t do what I said I was going to do.”
Now, what happens? So do my people. Now, my people come to me and say, “Hey, before we start, my bad, I didn’t get that thing done. I thought I was going to do it.” I know they’d been worried about it. The fact that they’re worried about it. The fact that they owned it, first of all, two points for owning it, but the fact that they had to actually stress out about it tells us we do have a culture of accountability. It is great. But I learned by setting out a memo saying, “We will have an atmosphere of accountability.” That doesn’t do it. You have to be the perfect. You’ve got to be the role model. You’ve got to be congruent. When you’re congruent on accountability, and you are accountable. Therefore, you’ll create a culture of accountability. Good luck.
Check out this book to learn more about creating a culture of accountability.