Building Accountability

Prepandemic era.
On my way to work, there used to be this busy traffic intersection. We almost always knew when the traffic police was on vacation. As long as he manned the traffic post, the commuters remembered their driving lessons. When he was away, the commuters had their way.

In a leader’s book, A is for Accountability.
Great tool and one that like all tools can be used in more ways than one.

Some leaders hold their teams accountable. Others help them hold themselves accountable. Is there a difference?

Scenario #1- Assign a task, ensure it is followed through, inspect repeatedly to confirm its done. Holding the team accountable should have a 💯 success rate. Problem? How scalable is direct oversight? It is one thing to ensure the team is on track. It is another thing to stay on the track forever. It is important to look downward and inward but also upward and outward.

Scenario #2- Assign a task, Explain the why (the implications of success and consequences of failure), build ownership of tasks and freedom to improvise if needed. Help them hold themselves accountable.

What do you do when standards are compromised despite your best efforts to empower the team to hold themselves accountable? – Hold the line. Roll up your sleeves and get in the weeds. But maybe just dont stay there. Be aquatic when you have to. Be terrestrial otherwise.

Being accountable maybe easier than helping another feel accountable. But so is feeding fish than teaching catch.

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