In The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It, author Michael Gerber identifies that everything a leader does begins with a common understanding of his or her company’s prime objective. This includes a clear sense of what the company stands for and where it is going.
Scott Blanchard referred to this book and the importance of making sure everyone in your organization understands its prime objective as I interviewed him for an article that will be appearing in a leading business publication later this summer. Scott is an Executive Vice President with The Ken Blanchard Companies and the co-founder of Blanchard Certified, a cloud-based leadership development program.
During the interview I asked Scott about accountability and a leaders role in it. It’s an issue that comes up often, especially for new leaders. They find it difficult to hold people accountable for results and to call them on it.
Blanchard caught me by surprise when he suggested that accountability is often a by-product of an alignment issue. In his experience, accountability issues usually stem from an employee not truly understanding the role that they play in helping the organization achieve its prime objective. He explained that the best leaders are the ones that make an organization’s prime objective crystal clear and then make sure that everyone knows how their individual roles tie-in.
One of the tools that Blanchard likes to use is an impact map that creates a very powerful line-of-sight where people can understand the results they are being held accountable for, the behaviors that achieve those results, and how those results contribute to the success of the organization.
In Blanchard’s experience, accountability rears its head when people don’t have line-of-sight alignment and aren’t bought into the bigger picture.
As Blanchard explains, “We’ve been exploring extrinsic versus intrinsic motivation and what we’ve found is that holding people accountable pales in comparison to creating conditions in an organization where people are intrinsically motivated. You cannot crack the whip enough, or hold someone accountable enough, to achieve the kind of results you can if people understand the vision, care about it desperately, and see themselves as a part of it.
“Create that kind of alignment and you won’t have to worry about accountability. Instead, employees will start holding you accountable as a leader to clear the way and help them get things done.”
Accountability issues? Check alignment first
Cries for accountability are usually a clear indicator that things are out of alignment within an organization. Is accountability an issue in your organization? If so, double-check for alignment first.
When people understand where their organization is going—including the role they play in it—they step up, work less selfishly and they tend to make better business decisions on behalf of the company. That’s because they can see the impact of every decision and how it impacts overall results.
Alignment helps people attain a sense of accomplishment. That’s a foundational concept and a key aspect of a satisfying job and a satisfying life.
What’s your approach to accountability? In the organizations Blanchard works with that are outperforming competitors, they are not talking about accountability. In these organizations accountability comes naturally from inside each of their employee’s hearts and heads. You can do the same. Get the alignment right and you’ll get the accountability right. Start today! It’s good for the company and good for the individual.