The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines accountability in part as “an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions”. Sounds like a reasonable enough expectation for those that draw a paycheck and other benefits from working at a company. But yet ‘accountability’ is often misunderstood, viewed negatively and resisted.
What if we reimagined accountability in the workplace? What if we reconstruct our understanding of accountability around a formula everyone can relate to?
In the book “How To Be A Great Boss” authors Wickman and Boer provide such a formula:
Leadership + Management = Accountability
That’s it! When we combine great leadership and great management, we get the kind of accountable culture we want.
The Essence of Leadership
Great leaders are the map makers and navigators that ensure their organization first knows where it is headed and stays on course over the long run. John C. Maxwell defines leaders as “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”
The Four Leadership Practices
#1 – Working “on” the business: the day-to-day priorities of working “in” the business distract most people from taking a step back, and assessing longer term strategic issues and decisions. Great leaders take intentional time to work “on” the business.
#2 – Clear direction: A clarified long-term vision is critical to the success of working “in” the business. Great leaders delegate many tasks, but do not delegate the responsibility of setting a clear vision for their their organization.
#3 – Creating the opening: Great leaders create opportunities for their people to step into and shine. Such as when a leader delegates a big project or responsibility to someone who now has the opportunity to take that greater challenge, grow and achieve more than they have in the past.
#4 – Thinking: to achieve a different and better future, leaders must first engage in the mental work of creating that preferred mental picture of the future, before their organization can bring that mental vision into reality.
The Essence of Management
Management is dependent on great leadership setting vision and direction. But leadership is equally dependent on managers executing their vision and turning it into reality. As Warren Bennis writes “Managers are people who do things right and leaders are people who do the right thing”.
The Four Management Practices
#1 – Working “in” the business: this is the real world of your business – your customers, projects, people management, financial planning and the million other things that are swirling around in your organization at any point in time. Great managers get things done day in and day out to ensure the goals and vision of the organization are achieved. Great managers also ensure their people are regularly recognized for doing great work.
#2 – Clear expectations: Great managers ensure employees know what is expected of them behaviorally, and performance wise by meeting frequently to discuss expectations and performance against those expectations.
#3 – Communication: Great managers ask great questions and seek first to listen as much as they communicate to ensure they know what is really going on with their direct reports.
#4 – Doing: Great managers utilize a meeting pulse of intentional meetings with each of their direct reports quarterly to ensure what is expected is actually getting done.
Leadership + Management = Accountability
One is not more important than the other. Both leadership and management are required to create a culture of healthy accountability. There is no shortcut straight to accountability, without first raising the level of leadership and management in your organization.
Have you elevated the level of leadership and management in your organization necessary to create the culture of accountability needed to get what you want from your business?
- Purchase and read “How To Be A Great Boss” by Gino Wickman and Renee Boer
- Schedule a call at NavigateTheJourney.com to discuss how we help leaders and managers create more accountable cultures.
About The Author
Tom Barrett is a Professional EOS Implementer™ and the CEO of Navigate the Journey, a Nashville based firm that specializes in helping entrepreneurs get what they want from their business and life.