The Power of Accountability
President at NRI
Accountability starts with a clear goal of something you will be held to by another or something you will be holding yourself to, along with a specified date down the road when this goal will be accomplished.
I would like to start with a story of what it means to be accountable. About seven years ago I got to a point in my business where I was working all hours of the day. I was trying my best to keep my business growing while at the same time dealing with all of the issues small business owners face on a daily basis. I was struggling with the fact that I literally had no more time left to use and couldn’t work any harder than I already was. I have always believed that putting your nose down and grinding it out is the only way to true success. This attitude was what had gotten me to where I was at that point.
At this point in time, I began to see the signs that we weren’t moving the company forward as fast as we had in the past. Small issues were holding us back time and time again. This was extremely frustrating for me. I didn’t know what else to do to keep pushing us to greater heights and that was the scariest part. I had always been the leader and the driver for where we were going and what to do next. I believe that it is in these times of great confusion and difficulty when some of the best ideas come forward and are perfectly aligned for crystallization. This struggle is the beauty of what makes us human. It is in this struggle when new concepts and beliefs can be created. It was at one of the monthly CEO roundtables I attended that a book called Traction by Gino Wickman was recommended to me. It was while reading this book that I had an ‘ah ha’ moment. I realized that I was the problem! I had created a bottleneck where I would give people opportunities to succeed, but when they didn’t do it as well as I had, I took back projects to “do myself”. What I realized was that I was not holding others truly accountable, allowing them to succeed or fail and coaching them up. I wasn’t establishing clear goals and measurables to ensure I wasn’t nervous about how things were progressing requiring me to check in along the way. I would just wait until the deadline had come and judge what was accomplished with both of us not agreeing about what was expected. I was the problem; I was not being a good leader!
Accountability takes two parties, one who is doing the action and the other to whom that person is accountable to. Without both sides, and the agreement on what should be done and by when, there are no repercussions for not accomplishing them. It is simply a discussion without accountability. The power of true accountability is the trust that is created between people and teams to rely on each other to accomplish a common goal. The definition of Accountable is “an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions.” This can only occur if both sides openly discuss and come together on the outcome of a common goal. One of the best ways and biggest pitfalls to holding someone accountable is the assessment of how things are progressing along the way. If both sides agree to communicate throughout the process as to the progress of the tasks one is accountable to accomplish, then the one holding the other accountable can feel confident that progress is being made. It also ensures the one accountable for the work that they are on the right track. This communication builds TRUST! As trust grows the necessity for conversations will reduce and updates will not be required as frequently. It frees up both parties to get more things done! Over time teams will become more fluid and trust each other to be accountable for their projects. More time can be spent on the future of where the business is going and not on the day-to-day. Isn’t this what every leader wants? Spend more time on where you are going and less time on solving individual issues with a team you trust to get the job done! This now builds a company culture on results, not reasons or excuses. I can tell you that this is not easy or quick, but the power that it yields is mesmerizing and can create an organization that builds on itself and moves forward at unparalleled speed with a quarter of the mistakes along the way.
Remember accountability requires two sides but once it is established in a company it can do amazing things. Once people get over the fear of accountability they begin to realize that they can do more than they ever believed they could accomplish. Teams begin to push themselves to do more and more on their own. The culture of fulfillment in work and ability to grow themselves personally and professionally begins to bloom all on its own. In closing, a gentle reminder that although this sounds like a simple idea, simple never means easy. “Life is a series of experiences, each one of which makes us bigger, even though sometimes it is hard to realize this. For the world was built to develop character, and we must learn that the setbacks and grieves which we endure help us in our marching onward.” — Henry Ford.
About NRI – NRI’s core business focus is in the development and manufacture of moisture-curable composites for the retrofit and reinforcing of defects and anomalies in pipelines as well as civil structures. With help from NRI, our clients can restore and protect their assets that are degrading or in jeopardy of failure. NRI provides the perfect solutions for in-service repairs, allowing its clients to continue operations in a quick and reliable manner.