Blog Archives


July 2012 Archives

Navigating Empowerment

Published on: Jul 30, 2012 | Tags: General, Team Leadership, Empowerment, Productivity, Adaptability, Management

In our webinar last week, we considered creating self-accountability that leads to ownership of responsibility by your team. Once a person becomes accountable to him or herself, you have to navigate the level of empowerment you have provided. This is different from navigating delegation as I discussed in a previous post

Empowering a person or team does not imply that there is no ongoing need for leadership. Some leadership models suggest when a person is proficient in his or her role they need less leadership. That may be true in a world that moves at a slow pace with little change, but in a fast paced, high change environment it is risky. 

NaivgateIf you are a leader attempting to clarify your team’s leadership needs once you have empowered them, here are three suggestions. 

1. Scout the Future 

Make sure you look ahead to you understand the emerging dynamics that will impact your team. This can include, but is not limited to, changes in your company, client expectations, technology, regulation, market competition, and resource availability. 

Effective navigation requires interpretation of the many variables that directly and indirectly influence your team’s ability to maintain or adjust course. 

2. Update Headings 

Your team is empowered collectively and individually because you have oriented them and they are headed in the right direction. There are times that headings must be adjusted, or even completely changed. Empowerment results in the capacity to adapt without losing morale or momentum. 

If you have scouted the future well, your team benefits from understanding heading adjustments as early as possible. Because of more time to adapt, minor changes in heading are less disruptive than major reversals,which can result in chaos and discontinuity. 

3. Invest in the Team and Individuals 

One definite benefit of empowerment develops from the knowledge a leader has of his or her team. This develops from understanding each team member. The leader clarifies individual capabilities and observes of how that translates into team performance. At that point, the leader can make investments in individuals and the group that will improve performance, raise productivity, and prepare the team for future skill requirements. 

Many managers long for the opportunity to think about the future, become proactive in change, and elevate the performance of the team. Most don’t see any way to get there. 

The path is an empowered team. If you navigate the team to empowerment, you will then navigate an empowered team. 

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Three Reasons Not to Sign up for Our Webinar

Published on: Jul 23, 2012 | Tags: General, Team Leadership, Management, Productivity

Our webinar, Creating Employee Ownership through the Five Levels of Accountability, will be held this Wednesday from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. CT.  There is still space to register here.  If you are undecided about participating, I want to share three reasons not to sign up: Stop

  1. Those you lead meet expectations and are self-motivated to the degree you never struggle with their accountability.
  2. The organization you work for has mastered accountability to the degree that the culture does not create challenges in holding people accountable.
  3. Every member of your team practices self-accountability to the degree you never have to be concerned with productivity. 

On the other hand, 

if people sometimes fail to meet expectations and your current practices have not changed that, 

Or 

if people are not generally held accountable in your organization, making it difficult for you to hold people accountable, 

Or 

if a lack of accountability is keeping productivity low for an individual or your team, then this webinar will provide five levels of accountability to create ownership in your team.

 Webinar Title:  Creating Employee Ownership through the Five Levels of Accountability

 Description:Many managers find the practice of holding employees accountable difficult. At the same time, they resist empowering those employees to make decisions and take action, limiting performance. There is a connection between the ability to hold an employee accountable and the willingness to empower that employee for performance and goal achievement. This webinar provides participants with methods that make accountability a positive experience for both the manager and employee. 

Sign up here or email us for more information.

You Can’t Teach Accountability

Published on: Jul 17, 2012 | Tags: General, Team Leadership, Management

I can’t sing. I have tried and as a result received a lot of negative feedback (except one time from my grandson). I want to sing well, but I apparently don’t have the ability. I even considered lessons, but an accomplished singer told me not to waste my money. 

Some things cannot be learned without a basic talent level to build upon. Likewise, some things that cannot be taught. Accountability cannot be taught. 

A person chooses to be accountable. That choice can be influenced by many variables. Here are a few to consider: Music

  • Values
  • Consequences
  • Personal experience
  • Relationship
  • Goals
  • Expectations

 Even though every person decides whether he or she will be accountable, we have relied on established practices to make people accountable. 

  • We make decisions for people and inform them of our decision expecting accountability…                       

then people do what they decide to do! 

  • We teach people policies and procedures expecting accountability… 

then people ignore policies and procedures 

  • We assign goals to that people are accountable to achieve… 

then people pursue what is important to them. 

  • We use positional authority to set expectations… 

then people interpret our expectations based on their preference. 

These practices have been relied upon for decades, and for the most part, have not resulted in employees who are willingly accountable. That is because they attempt to impose accountability on people. 

It is more powerful for people to choose to be accountable. Making the choice to be accountable is not learned in training. It is a natural response people make when circumstances create ownership and the desire to succeed. Since we can’t train people to be accountable, nor can we force accountability, other options must be considered. 

You can… 

position people for success because as you support them in becoming successful they will be accountable. 

coach people to develop their own goals knowing they will pursue a goal that is important the them. 

develop influence with people who will rely on you because you have their best interest at heart. 

create an environment that ensures empowered decision-making while limiting risk. 

These practices will position people to be accountable for their own success, goals, and decisions. You then use your influence to support their pursuit of that which they have made themselves accountable to achieve. 

If you would like position people for accountability, you will benefit from our upcoming webinar, Creating Employee Ownership through Five Levels of Accountability.  You can participate on Wednesday, July 25 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. CST. Click here for more information or to register.

Self-Accountability

Published on: Jul 10, 2012 | Tags: General, Team Leadership, Management, Organizational Leadership, Productivity, Self Leadership

Self AccountabilityIn a recent course, we discussed discipline and self-discipline. When some heard the word discipline, they assumed it included self-discipline. We spent some time differentiating the two. In some cases, the differentiation is not very important, but in the context of our discussion, it was very important. We defined discipline as that which is imposed on us by someone who has the authority to assign consequences if we fail to respond. Self-discipline is that which we impose on our self. The discussion ended with all preferring to practice self-discipline, avoiding discipline by another. It seems to me the same logic applies to accountability. 

Typically, when a leader thinks about accountability, it relates to potential discipline that he or she may impose on another. While some leaders do not relish this responsibility, most recognize it is part of leadership. If there is no accountability, the quantity or quality of work suffers. Traditionally, those who hold others accountable rely on position and authority to exert accountability. 

It is possible for people to hold themselves accountable. We know this, but one might question whether this can become the primary approach to accountability in an organization.  It can if leaders use position and authority differently. A leader uses his or her position and authority to situate followers for self-accountability. To accomplish this, the leader must be intentional with every step he or she takes in developing the leader-follower relationship. 

Consider the potential of people being accountable to self for the results of their work, and their impact on co-workers. 

  • Personal Responsibility
  • Teamwork
  • Goal Achievement
  • Engagement
  • Personal Success
  • Ownership

 Ultimately, a person with a greater sense of personal accountability benefits an organization as well. 

  • Improved productivity
  • Connection to the team and company
  • Commitment
  • Long term employment
  • Higher level of contribution
  • Positive culture 

This is a “win-win” scenario! I can easily see that barriers to self-accountability are well worth overcoming. The question is how to lead in a manner that people begin to practice self-accountability.  Four primary barriers you can anticipate include: 

  1. History – Leaders and followers have history to overcome. This shared history has resulted in established behavioral patterns that are accepted and comfortable. Even though they do not represent the most effective concepts and practices for creating self-accountability, they are well established
  2. Organizational Resources – I have heard many leaders express frustration over resource limitations. The perception of inadequate resources should not limit self-accountability. Organizational leaders must design an organization with clear direction, clear expectations for leaders and followers, and leadership that knows how to develop people.
  3. Management Style – While many leaders would celebrate people on their team whose first level of accountability is self, they are not sure how to lead them there. Even though leaders know that present approaches to managing people are not working, they continue to practice them. When one is not aware of alternative concepts and practices, that person continues to do what they have done. The basic assumption is that he or she has to live with the results they currently experience.
  4. Change – Organizational, group, and individual change continues to be a hot topic. Even with all of the talk of change, most of us don’t like it. This is particularly true when we are not sure what will change, how to change, and where the change will lead. When a person has not possessed a sense of self-accountability, that expectation is a big change. A change avoided at all costs by many. 

The benefits of self-accountability far outweigh the barriers to its practice. Our upcoming, complimentary webinar Creating Employee Ownership through the Five Levels of Accountability will introduce you to an approach to accountability that overcomes these barriers. You can participate on Wednesday, July 25 from 11 am to 12 pm by signing up here.

The Difficulty of Holding People Accountable

Published on: Jul 03, 2012 | Tags: General, Team Work, Team Leadership, Management, Feedback

Leadership would be easy if it weren’t for people. I have had that thought many times, usually when I have had to address a person who has acted irrationally, irresponsibly, unprofessionally, or thoughtlessly. I hate it when I am that person, because we are all capable of actions and behaviors that do not represent the best of our humanity. At the same time, we all have incredible capacity to make a difference, achieve success, and contribute positively. I enjoy those days, don’t you?

 Many leaders experience fewer enjoyable days and more stressful ones because they fail to hold people accountable when they behave negatively. The result is an inescapable trap that some leaders fall when they succumb to the belief that there is nothing that can be done. The basic belief: holding a person accountable is difficult and should be avoided if possible.  I have observed six reasons leaders no not hold people accountable. 

  • Conflict - The leader believes potential conflict is riskier than the negative behavior.
  • Failure – The leader believes that since he or she has failed, it is not right to address another’s failure.
  • Expectation – The leader believes adults should know how to behave and therefore he or she should not have to intervene.
  • Hindsight – The leader was not aware of his or her expectations until they were not met and then believes it is too late to address them.
  • Control – The leader assumes tacit responsibility by fixing the problem because he or she believes the other person cannot or will not do it right.
  • Pity – The leader feels sorry for the person and does not want to make him or her feel worse by addressing an issue.

 Each of these reasons for not holding someone accountable becomes an inherent leadership trap. The intention behind the justification for ignoring negative behavior, whether based in pity, expectations, or any other of these beliefs, seems reasonable if you do not examine it.  However, upon further examination, a leader will observe it becomes a self-imposed deception. Accountable

Consider this… 

  • Conflict ignored becomes increased conflict.
  • Failure to address failure because of failure perpetuates failure.
  • Expecting that which is not realistic creates a false reality.
  • Permitting hindsight to limit the present undermines the future.
  • Taking control of a responsibility without expecting a person to practice self-control limits you and frees them.
  • Pity that removes consequences for behavior perpetuates that behavior. 

Can you see the trap in each of these reasons for not holding someone accountable? I have unknowingly trapped myself by the practices that develop from these reasons. Beyond that, I have experienced the stress and frustration that accompanies each one.  I have also observed these in many clients and organizations. 

Accountability is the way out of the trap. Our upcoming, complimentary webinar Creating Employee Ownership through the Five Levels of Accountability will introduce you to an approach to accountability that ensures you avoid these traps. You can participate on Wednesday, July 25 from 11 am to 12 CST pm by signing up here.

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