One of the problems of leadership is often a lack of people to hold them accountable. After all, as “the boss” who is going to ensure you take responsibility for your actions, and really do what you say you will? Often the vision described is done so to rally people without really understanding whether or how it can be achieved.
We see this all too often today, with political leaders often being the most obvious in avoiding accountability.
But, if you’re going to lead the kind of business that shows sustained success over many years, the kind of business that grows strongly in value for the benefit of all stakeholders, accountable leadership is essential.
Of course, accountability can be a two-edged sword. In companies where there is aggressive accountability and people are vilified for mistakes, a counter-culture of avoiding accountability sets in, to the detriment of the business. There are also those leaders who want to avoid any form of confrontation or unpleasantness, in effect choosing popularity to avoid holding people accountable, also to the detriment of the business.
Companies need a culture which recognises that mistakes happen and it’s part of the learning process, but they are still accountable for these. With clear communication on expectations, on measurement and on consequences for not meeting expectations, companies thrive.
However, it cannot just be an accounting function, full of raw scores reflecting the percentages of target achieved. Performance management should reflect the development side, too, and be seen as fair, two-way discussions and boards, are of course, responsible for the performance management of the CEO.
It all comes down to having a culture of trust in the business. Leaders who trust their team to do the job and show respect, while holding them accountable, have stronger businesses.
Interestingly, data shows around 91% of respondents to a research project felt that one of the top leadership development needs in their organisation was the ability to hold others to account effectively, and 82% felt they had limited to no ability to do so.
What is clear is that businesses with happy, motivated employees do very much better than those with a poor culture – this study, tracking companies over an 11-year period found those with a strong culture averaged more than 4x the revenue growth, 700% the net income growth and over 12 times the stock price growth of those without.
So, the advantages of a business with a culture of openness and accountability are clear, but how do you ensure this right through to the CEO?
Clearly, the board needs to be of a substance to have proper performance discussions. Additionally, the best CEOs tend to be active members of peer groups (sometimes called “Mastermind” groups) where they can have discussions and work through possible solutions to problems utilising the collective wisdom of the group. They also, like top athletes, work on their ongoing performance development using executive coaches, who will hold them accountable.
For your business to be even more successful, ensure you have a culture of openness and accountability throughout the organisation – you’ll be pleased you did.
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Some related posts you might find to be of interest include:
- “I absolutely believe that people, unless coached, never reach their maximum capabilities.” – Bob Nardelli
- 3 Rs of Great Leadership – Results, Reputation and Relationships
- 6 Temptations of a CEO
- 6 Leadership Development Issues CEOs Often Overlook
- OKR – Measuring What Matters
- It’s Lonely at the Top
- The Best Leaders Will Do This In 2022
- “Company culture matters. How management chooses to treat its people impacts everything for better or for worse.” – Simon Sinek
This Harvard Business Review article might also be interesting: How to Actually Encourage Employee Accountability
P.S. If you’d like to find out more about mastermind groups and executive coaching, book a free no-obligation 30-minute session with me here, and let’s talk about whether, and where, these might help you.