Creating a Culture of Accountability

Air-ports are great places to get surprised and meet some wonderful people. During few occasions, I happen to fulfill few celebrities, politicians, my previous colleagues and bosses and sometimes I chanced upon few people who are associated with me on Social Media, such as LinkedIn and Facebook. That day whilst I was traveling from Pune in order to Delhi through Spicejet (SG 184), I happened to meet Mihir Jaitley – the CEO of a leading multi-billion USD Automobile Conglomerate. Previously I had met Mihir during couple of NHRDN and other leadership seminars and conclaves. However , getting a chance to talk to someone, who is as influential plus successful businessman, as Mihir in an one-on-one conversation at an airport is a very different experience than asking all of them a question during leadership conclaves. I was not very sure if I should go and say, “Hello” to him or just let this opportunity go. Missing such an opportunity would have been really idiotic on my part. Therefore , I gathered all my courage and walked towards him.

“Hello Friend, I am Sanjeev. I have heard you and met you during few management conclaves. Last, I heard you had been in NHRDN conclave in Mumbai during 2014”, I said.

We all raised our arms for a cozy handshake.

“Hey, Sanjeev, it is fine meeting you. How are you”, he asked.

“I am great, Sir. Thank you. It is really nice to see you here”, I responded.

“Sir, you have unique ideas about how HR can contribute to the growth of the organization. Very unique from other company leaders”, I continued.

“Thank you, Sanjeev. What do you do? ” he inquired.

“Sir, I work as Independent Administration Consultant for last 1 . 5 years. I help start-up endeavors; small and mid-size organizations in setting up HR Processes & Processes, as well as helping them improve the performance of their employees. I also help businesses in preparing and grooming their new managers and coaching leaders for bigger roles. Before this particular, I have worked for 15 many years with few organizations across India and outside of India”, I provided thorough reply while extending the business card to him.

“That’s very impressive. I like the phrase that you simply used in your description, “help”. Experts don’t give free help. They charge a lot of money”, he replied with a sarcastic smile on his face, while extending his business cards.

“Do you think anything can be done to enhance the accountability of managers and leaders in an organizational set-up? Have you done anything in those lines”, he asked curiously.

As we were discussing, Spicejet staff made a good announcement for boarding the plan.

“Sir, poor accountability is not a concern of just one organization or an industry. It is presently there in all industries. I think the primary issue is not with managers or frontrunners but the way accountability has been defined. By definition, it appears like an attempt to fix the blame for a failing or crisis rather than giving a good empowerment to concerned leaders to find a solution. When it comes to fixing the fault, many leaders are likely to surge it off”, I gave an understanding reply.

“Yes, I have helped couple of organizations in making their leaders a lot more accountable. I will be glad to help you as well, if I get a chance to meet a person again and explain the process”, I continued.

“Well, I just questioned you this out of curiosity. All of us don’t have any such problem in our business. However , I would like to know more about it. With regard to next TWO weeks, I will be traveling to be able to other offices. I will give you a call after that. Let’s meet sometime”, I responded.

“Sure Sir. I will look ahead to meeting you again. It’s been nice meeting you”, I told, when i picked my laptop bag to panel the plane.

“Same here Sanjeev. See you. Bye”, he responded.

I failed to get any communication from Mihir for one month. And I was in this particular state of confusion and stress. Should I wait or send a communication? Should I call him or send an email? He must be occupied or else he would have sent several communication. Maybe he just said that he wants to meet, in actual he don’t want to. Okay, let me send one email and see if he will respond or not. It’s simply an email.

I sent a short email to Mihir, giving him a summary of our meeting and asking your pet if he would like to meet to take it further.

To my surprise, I received a reply from Mihir within one hour, sent through his iPhone, informing me that he remember our own meeting, however , he is still vacationing and will get back to me as soon as possible.

We didn’t get any communication through him for another TWO months, neither did I bother to send another e-mail to him or call him. Then one day, on Tuesday, in the month of August, almost after 6 months of our airport meeting in February, I received a call through Mihir asking me if I am free on Friday and if I will be able to come to his office in 3 PM? I responded with affirmation. I had two days to prepare the presentation and be ready for, probably one of the biggest client meet at that point of time.

I used to be rehearsing my presentation as I was driving my black color Mahindra XUV 500 to his office in Chakan MIDC near Pune. After reaching the office, I was guided to the conference room. Mihir became a member of me in the conference room, and also a team of SEVEN people, including Head of HR, Nilesh Gaikwad. I was given ONE hour to complete the session.

Here is how I made the very best use of it.

The majority of people in organizations today, when confronted with poor overall performance or unsatisfactory results, immediately start to formulate excuses, rationalizations, and quarrels for why they cannot be kept accountable, or, at least, not fully accountable for the problems.

Most frequently heard claims are:

“That’s not my job”

“There’s nothing I can do about it”

“Someone ought to tell him”

“All we can do is to wait around and see”

“Just tell me what you need me to do”

“If we all only had the resources”

“The competition outsmarted us”

“The whole economy’s in trouble”

I am sure you may have heard these excuses from your associates and there are also chances that you have provided these excuses to your teams, table of directors, customers, etc . Regardless of the wording, all our justifications for failure focus on “WHY IT CAN NOT BE DONE’, rather than on “WHAT ELSE I CAN DO. ”

Let us 1st understand the meaning of accountability. (I asked the audience to share their particular understanding of the word accountability). Many people, which includes leaders, have totally wrong knowledge of “Accountability”. They believe,

“Accountability means finding out who is at fault when something goes wrong.
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“Accountability is used to punish people for poor performance. ”

“Accountability is administration driven: it’s external, not internal. ”

“Accountability means responsibility plus obligation. It’s when someone describes what you are supposed to do in a job description and then rates you A, B or even C. ”

“Accountability is something that is put on you by your boss. It causes unnecessary pressure, anxiety, regret, guilt, and resentment. ”

“Accountability means being willing to stand and explain what you did. ”

“Accountability is a tool that management uses to pressure people to perform. ”

The dictionary meaning associated with accountability is – the quality or state of being accountable; especially: a good obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions.

Simply by this definition, people only perpetuate a reactive perspective of liability, one obsessed with the past and blissfully ignorant of the future. Consumed with dotting the “I’s” and crossing the “T’s” of their elaborate explanations regarding why they’re not responsible, consumers are robbing themselves of the strength of accountability – a power how the Oz Principle defines as the essential to a successful future. In such ethnicities, winning in the game of life includes “covering your tail”.

The best definition of Accountability, therefore , is what has been described in Oz Principle:

“Accountability: An attitude of continually asking “what else can I do to rise over my circumstances and achieve the results I desire? ” It is the process of “seeing it, owning it, solving it, and doing it. ” It requires a level of ownership that includes producing, keeping, and proactively answering for personal commitments. It is a perspective that sees both current and future initiatives rather than reactive and historical explanations”.

There is a thin line that separates success from failure and the excellent companies from the ordinaries. Below that line is a set of individuals or even leaders that foster a lifestyle of excuse making, blaming other people, confusion, and an attitude of helplessness. While above that range are individuals, leaders and ethnicities that breed an environment of a feeling of reality, ownership, commitment, solutions to problems, and determined action. While losers languish below the line, planning stories that explain why previous efforts went awry, winners live above the line, powered by the commitment and hard work. People and institutions find themselves thinking and behaving below the line whenever they consciously or subconsciously avoid accountability for individual or collective results. Stuck in what we all call the “victim cycle, inch they begin to lose their spirit and will, until, eventually, they feel totally powerless.

Now, you must be considering “staying on the line”, well, none individuals nor organizations can stay on the line between these two realms because events will inexorably push them in one direction or the other. Whilst both people and organizations may exhibit accountability in some situations however manifest victim behavior in other people, some issue or circumstance will certainly arise to influence them to believe and act from either a good above the line or below the queue perspective.

When individuals, teams, or entire organizations remain below the line, unaware or unconscious of actuality, things get worse, not better, with out anyone knowing why. Rather than encounter reality, sufferers of this malady frequently begin ignoring or pretending to not know about their accountability, denying their particular responsibility, blaming others for their situation, citing confusion as a reason for inaction, asking others to tell them what to do, claiming that they can’t do it, or simply waiting to see if the situation will miraculously resolve itself. This process, if unabated, can wreak both personal and professional havoc.

As we have observed earlier, individuals, leaders and groups when they demonstrate above the line behavior, they See It, Owe It, Resolve It and Do it. These are also referred to as FOUR steps of accountability.

Why do people fail to see it? People most frequently fail to see reality because they choose to ignore or resist changes in the external environment.

Why do so lots of people fail to own it? People most often fail to own their circumstances because they are not able to bring themselves to accept the liability side of their story.

Why do people fail to solve it? Since people begin solving problems they frequently encounter obstacles, expected and unpredicted, that can stimulate a temptation to fall below the line into the victim cycle.

Why do people neglect to do it? Most people who fail to Get it done can’t or won’t resist the particular gravitational pull from Below The queue which can so easily drag someone back into the victim cycle, wasting valuable time, energy, and resources, disregarding and denying, making excuses, developing explanations, pointing fingers, getting puzzled, and waiting to see if issues will get better. In our experience, preparing most often because people naturally resist the perceived risks associated with becoming fully responsible for results. A anxiety about failure can create a terrible burden that makes taking the final step to accountability virtually impossible.

Now that we have understood the meaning of accountability and idea of below the line and above the queue, what shall be done to imbibe accountability as a habit?

Creating accountability in others is a process plus doesn’t happen as a result of some unique event. Many leaders mistakenly believe that once their people have been exposed to the idea of accountability and understand it, they will never fall below the line again. This “event” approach to accountability, the notion that accountability happens at an identifiable moment, doesn’t work. Leaders who get this to mistake tend to use accountability being a hammer, nailing people when they fall below the line in an unending game of “I got you. inch Such hammering will only propel people back into the victim cycle. Therefore , you must help people feel empowered by concept of accountability, not trapped because of it.

Therefore , whenever you hear a victim story or a below the line excuse, you shall use the following 5 key steps to coach that person away from reacting and toward learning:

1 ) Listening. Look for instances of victim behavior, and when you engage someone in a discussion of their victim story (for the purpose of coaching them) or listen to “below the line excuses”, listen sympathetically to what they have to say.

2 . Acknowledging. Acknowledge the victim facts plus obstacles that someone thinks have got kept him or her from getting preferred results. Show the person that you realize their feelings and know your self how hard it is to overcome those emotions. Agree that the challenges are genuine or that bad things perform happen to good people.

3. Inquiring. If someone seems deeply attached with a victim story, gently shift the discussion toward the liability version of the story. Continually present the question: “What else can you do to achieve the result you desire or overcome the circumstance that plagues a person? What can we control, and what still cannot we control in this situation? Exactly what are we pretending not to know about the accountability in this situation? What possess we learned from our recent encounter?

4. Coaching. Use the steps to accountability to help a person identify where he or she currently stands and in which the person needs to go to obtain preferred results. Emphasize that falling below the line on occasion is only natural but staying there never yields results. Stress how rising above the line will produce positive outcomes.

5. Committing. Commit yourself to helping a person create an above the line plan of action and encourage him or her to statement on their activities and progress. Avoid end a coaching session without having setting a specific time for follow-up, allowing sufficient time, but not a lot of time, to elapse. If the person will not approach you at the appointed period, take the initiative yourself. During these follow-up periods, continue to look, listen, acknowledge, ask, coach, and recommit. Provide honestly, caring feedback about progress, and express congratulations for every improvement.

Within an ideal world, it wouldn’t become necessary for leaders to coach accountability since everyone would acknowledge their liability in every situation. However , since this is not an ideal world, and since everyone is fallible, leaders must make training a daily habit. And while we have stressed proactive coaching, which focuses on the current and the future, we have also visit appreciate the need for the review of the past, what we should call accounting for progress. Whenever handled properly, an after-the-fact sales can provide a person with an opportunity to measure progress toward results, learn from previous experience, establish a sense of accomplishment, and determine what else can be done to get the desired results. While most leaders without effort know the value of urging people to take into account their actions, many often fail to do it well.

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