In my last post, I talked at great length about what it means to possess and execute emotional intelligence and ways in which you can strengthen those emotional intelligence muscles to improve your leadership abilities. As I previously pointed out, one of the ways to increase your level of emotional intelligence is by practicing accountability.
The reality is that accountability, despite being often overlooked as a key leadership skill, is critical to success. A 2016 study by the talent development and transition company, Lee Hecht Harrison, which surveyed 1,900 human resource professionals and business leaders across the globe, found that 71% of respondents believe that leadership accountability is a critical but often overlooked business issue. The data also showed that only 31% were satisfied with the degree of accountability being shown by their leaders.
But what does it mean to be accountable—to practice accountability? On the most basic level, it means that you take responsibility for your actions and the decisions you make. You own outcomes—good or bad—and you don’t blame others or external factors when things don’t go according to planned.
Yet, there is more to practicing accountability than standing up and owning your own work, your decisions and the results they produce. Practicing accountability is really about developing a deep and mutual trust with those to whom you are accountable—your team. Here are some ways in which you can develop that trust:
- Have honest conversations with team members—be truthful and real in all that you say and do.
- Communicate authentically and clearly at all times—let them know what you want, need and expect.
- Don’t accept excuses or the blame game—from yourself or fellow team members.
- Work together to figure out the problems and road blocks that are limiting performance and develop skills within the group to maximize impact.
- Call the group together as soon as you can to share successes and good news.
When you practice real accountability, you are saying to your team: “Trust me. I am honest and clear with you about how I operate, what I care about and my personal and professional expectations of you. I want us to succeed together.” And when you do that, you are then able to ask the same of your team members. They will step up, give their best and be personally accountable because they know that you have their back. In short, where you lead, they will follow. And you will all move forward on a path towards success.