In business, I’ve heard a lot of pretty words over the years. Promises and commitments. Sincerely spoken by earnest folk who intended every word. Unfortunately, the desired result fell short all too often. Why?

Because delivering on the promise, achieving the desired result, required the efforts and output of others and a significant part of group performance is the ability to effectively hold people accountable and that is an all too rare skill set. We are taught from childhood to be polite, to be agreeable and to dodge confrontation and yet to lead, to manage you must be able to set and enforce standards… while still developing people and building Esprit de corps!

The skill set of Accountability includes:

  • Willingness to set and enforce standards
  • Gaining Buy-in and Engagement on Desired Results/Standards (see Covey/7Habits on Performance Agreements. pp 226-229)
  • Possessing/Developing the Emotional Courage to Effectively and Constructively Confront

Fortunately, effectively holding others accountable is a learnable skill set like any other howbeit a great deal more complex to master. It is easy to get the rudiments and theory down and learn the jargon to mouth; putting it in to practice with a good heart and a clear, transparent agenda is much more challenging. Radical Candor, Thanks for the Feedback, Crucial Conversations, Change the Conversation, and Extreme Ownership contain good guidance for the start of your never-ending learning journey.

Closing Quotes:

“Explicit disagreement is better than implicit misunderstanding.” – Douglas Stone, Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well

“No matter what has been said or written, if substandard performance occurs and no one is held accountable, if there are no consequences, no changes, that poor performance becomes the new standard.” – Jocko Willing, Extreme Ownership

“The most surprising thing about Radical Candor is that its results are often the opposite of what you fear. You fear people will become angry or vindictive; instead they are usually grateful for the chance to talk it through. Even if you do get that initial anger, resentment, or sullenness, those emotions prove to be fleeting when the person knows you really care.” – Kim Scott, Radical Candor

As always, I share what I most want and need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier