It’s all abuzz, who is accountable for this mess!
Accountability is being used like a hammer to punish, to diminish our opponents, to exonerate ourselves at the expense of others. Is this the way to get the best out of the team you lead?
I think it is not. Especially not if you want to retain good talent, and develop a loyalty in your millennials.
This leads to people refusing to lead, avoiding responsibility and bringing fear instead of creative talent to your workplace.
No one is happy if they are afraid of the punishing finger of accountability being used against them.
Accountability, much like responsibility is being used too often in the past tense. As a hindsight exercise in blame. In creating a scapegoat for a problem.
This is in part due to the emotional violence that we are accustomed to culturally, the me versus you, or us versus them, that is increasingly a problem.
When we point a finger of accountability, we have to first look at ourselves.
Before we impose our judgement on others ask:
- What did I do to help create success for this project?
- Did I genuinely invest in the teams success or did I avoid contributing?
- Did I and do I treat myself and my co-workers with dignity and respect?
- Am I demanding of, or cooperative with this person?
- Do I treat this person as a person, as someone who lives their own complex life?
- What is my agenda?
To become proactive in your accountability means to become emotionally intelligent; to become functional about your approach to building teams and relationships.
Proactive accountability takes more time upfront, but saves time in the long game. It means asking questions, looking at the project from many angles, thinking things through together considering each other in the process, and avoiding dumping on each other. It means workplace curiosity and creating an environment where people think about their effect on each other, instead of demanding or demeaning team members. To be proactive, teams need to see behavior according to the fact that while you may have individual duties, they are responsible, accountable to the whole.
Too often people learn to treat co-workers either the way they were treated or to develop what are essentially sibling rivals. It is no secret that we all learn to interact with the world when we are children. Compassion, emotional intelligence, and mindful choices are ways we lift ourselves above these early training behaviors to make functional mature adult relationships.
Just because that is the way you did it at home, does not make it the right way. We all need to learn to do better. It is sometimes challenging, but to become a great leader, you have to do the work, and model it for your team.
One of the tools that I use to help people mature emotionally and learn to make more professional, compassionate choices is the Enneagram. I like this system because it gives us a view into how others see the world, what motivates them, and how to engage effectively. Go to my services page to schedule an assessment with an session to learn more about yourself.
We require tools to wake us up to what we miss about ourselves and others. We need to put in the effort to be curious about our own inner world.
To become proactive in your accountability is to Unleash the Power of Compassion in your life. If you don’t you will continue to make the same mistakes and sabotage your own, and others, opportunities for success and happiness.
Take for example accountability as punishment; aka responsibility as punishment:
Most of us assume that everyone sees the world as we do. Very assertive people often find themselves in leadership roles. This is not a reflection of the less assertive persons value or ability to contribute. However, this creates a challenge if the either of the parties is not sensitive the value of the other.
So notice, we are taking just one of the endless variables of human interaction. Assertive vs non assertive. We live a world that is dualistic in it’s nature, so we must attend to the seen and unseen, the similarity and differences etc. We must attempt to be account in a proactive vs a reactive way.
Mindfulness, means to think things through, to pay attention, to treat yourself and others as whole people, and to see from the wholeness as well as the detail of the situation. Proactive Accountability is a form of mindfulness.
It is avoiding suffering, or punishment, by paying attention to yourself, to your people, to the details upfront. It is the essence of mitigating risks, but as a culture we miss the mark when accountability is punishment instead of thoughtful planning up front.
It is also on the leader to draw your people into the game, this takes trust and no one trusts the punisher.
Please understand, that you are going to miss things, there will be mistakes. Sometimes, mistakes are avoidable, sometimes they are not, and sometimes, heads do need to roll. If you put more energy into thoughtful and compassionate proactive accountability, you will have fewer mistakes, more members of the team leaning in, a higher level of cooperative and collaboration upfront, and less pain on the back-end.