Leadership: Accountability!

Many organisational visions start with a flurry of energy, through beautiful orated speeches which conjure an alignment of visualised outcomes for many if not all followers. This energy then falls as, the day to day happens, followers have to fulfil their roles regardless of the original buy-in of the initiative. 

Leaders must reaffirm their visions regularly. The frequency is obviously relative to the context, various techniques such as having a diverse array of people leading change, using a joint vision and creating a common language are wonderful techniques in resistance.

This reaffirmation is not the iterative tiresome speeches in which we have all sat through, where people nudge each other, roll their eyes and mutter ‘here we go again’. Rather it’s the actions and the structures in place to hold people to account. 

Holding people to ‘account’ normally comes with negative connotations. Here it really does not. Once bought in followers are introduced to a culture of quick wins for this to happen followers work MUST be monitored. 

Here accountability does not have to take the form of a stick or a carrot but the aim is to make your followers accountable to their own buy-in.

I have always worked with a model of ‘it’s okay’ and then ‘How are we going to do to fix this?’ when followers are not on track. This is still holding people to account, being supported in a safe environment has always yielded better overall and sustainable results. It also breeds an honest environment, where people are more likely to come forward in good time and ask for support. 

This also endows followers with the self-efficacy of their role. They are in control of their buy-in to the initiative, that they are trusted and supported in their endeavour.

Various models around the world use this to great effect. Weight Watchers being one, where followers voluntarily (actually you pay don’t you) sign up to a scheme (buy-in) and follow a plan (act) and weekly you hold yourself accountable to your future thinner self. 

I can hear through you through the screen, what about those people who won’t buy in, perform at the required rate and are detrimental to the organisation as a whole. I too have moved people on to other organisations, but always once all support avenues have been exhausted. Not because it’s (just) fair to the follower but so it fair to the organisation. Losing a follower is the loss of an asset and part of a leader’s role is to keep people on track to achieve the vision.

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