The question of how to grow an environment of accountability is a common one.
Most CEOs I’ve worked with over the past 25+ years truly do want a healthy and viable company culture.
The journey isn’t necessarily an easy one but it is an achievable one.
For now, here are a few tips for how you can grow, nurture, and sustain a culture built on accountability:
First: Get firmly grounded in why you even want a culture built on accountability. Is it just a ‘trend of the month’ kind of thing, or is it because you fully understand the business viability of having a culture where people are engaged enough to step up (without being told) and do the work that needs to be done while also making really good decisions along the way? As a CEO, get grounded in why you believe having accountable leaders and teams matters. Otherwise, you’ll waffle at the first push-back (and there will be push-back).
Second: Create a method to tame the madness. Have a healthy rhythm around meetings. There is a rhythm for weekly team meetings. There’s a rhythm around making them strategic vs. tactical. There’s a rhythm around the entire process from Annual Planning to Quarterly Planning, etc., all the way down to your daily huddles. Cascade this type of methodology throughout your entire company for consistency. I believe that people want a sense of order. Healthy rhythms give them that order.
Third: Assess your company culture. Your culture is set by you and your leadership team. The only way you can know how things are working throughout all the various nooks and crannies of your company is to gather the data that will tell you what you need to know. For instance, if there’s no trust at various levels throughout your organization then you’re going to have a harder time growing accountable leaders and teams. When working with my clients, we’ll do either a Culture Survey or a Leadership 360 Survey on core company leaders. You simply have to know where things stand now (the hard truth) before you can move toward creating higher levels of personal accountability. The assessment process isn’t about firing (or moving around) key leaders who aren’t effective. It is, however, about creating a sense of accountability (based on the assessment results) at the leadership level first. What’s the logic of holding your people accountable if you don’t first hold yourself and your core leaders accountable?
Fourth: Create transparency. Transparency creates strategic (and real) discussions. It also creates trust (and it’s virtually impossible to have a healthy environment of accountability without trust). To do this, use a dashboard for logging your Quarterly Plan (which is, of course, based off your Annual Plan). Be specific by logging your top 3-5 Key Priorities for the Quarter, with each Priority having one person who is accountable for ‘driving’ it. For each Priority, define what success looks like. The individuals accountable for watching over each of the initiatives can engage their team members by asking them to create what they see as their own Individual Priorities (i.e., what they will be doing to support one or more of the initiatives). Each week, everyone (from the individual to the team leader) will status the progress made toward success. By doing this, you’re identifying specific information about goals and results. The transparency also opens the door for more strategic discussions in weekly meetings while also allowing you to make adjustments in real time, etc. By cascading your plan in a way that creates a rhythm of execution, you begin to form accountability in a way that people won’t fear. Instead, they become more engaged because they know what they’re doing (and how they’re doing it) matters. Your people will begin to spontaneously form their own accountabilities, they’ll suggest improvements, they’ll problem-solve together (vs. running to you with every little problem), etc. In short, your people will rise to the occasion.
Closing Thoughts and Resources
Above are just a few tips for growing accountable leaders, which is a prerequisite for growing accountable teams. A deeper dive into the specifics of creating the right kind of accountability can be found in the Rhythm Systems Five C’s of Team Accountability.
To keep growing your own leadership capabilities, here are three tips for being a transformative CEO.
Start the journey: Whatever you do, start the journey to grow accountable leaders and teams. Reach out for resources to set the stage. You can find additional information on Rhythm Systems’ Accountable Leaders and Teams Program here.
Breakthrough! And finally, consider joining me at the Rhythm Systems Breakthrough Conference on October 11-12, 2018. There’s a CEO Exclusive Track where you can learn from your CEO peers while also gaining a higher-level understanding of how to grow a performance culture.
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