Sunday, January 15, 2017

Accountability and Ownership


I’ve been thinking a lot about the topic of accountability in the new year.  Accountability to do what we say, to walk the talk.  This really is what the “Leadership Philosophy” does for the leader, especially when you ask for feedback from those you lead.  I’ve been encouraging those who have written and shared their leadership philosophy to use it during performance evaluation discussions.  Once you’ve given feedback to those you rate, turn the tables and ask them to do the same for you.  And the standard you want to be evaluated against – should be your leadership philosophy.  Be accountable to your own written standard.

What about your goals?  Do you have 100% commitment to mission accomplishment?  I heard about a Mobile App in which you load up your goals and milestones and then put money toward those goals.  Then, you designate a charity or cause that you DESPISE!  Every time you miss a milestone, money is sent to that organization.  Wow.  What might that do to hold you to your commitments and be accountable to do what you said?

Finally, I’d like to recommend a book to all of you.  I’m sure a few have already discovered it and can echo my comments.  The book is “Extreme Ownership.”  Now, I don’t easily give credit to books written by Navy folk.  This is most definitely an exception!  It gets to the heart of what it means to lead, to own every element of your team, no excuses.  Here are a few quotes I found to be especially impactful from the book:

 - When subordinates are not doing what they should, leaders that exercise Extreme Ownership cannot blame the subordinates.  They must first look in the mirror at themselves.

- Total responsibility for failure is a difficult thing to accept, and taking ownership when things go wrong requires extraordinary humility and courage.

- When leaders blame everyone else, you end up with a unit that never felt they were to blame for anything.  All they did was make excuses and ultimately never made the adjustments necessary to fix problems.

- When setting expectations, no matter what has been said or written, if substandard performance is accepted and no one is held accountable – if there are no consequences – that poor performance becomes the new standard.

- When it comes to performance standards, it’s not what you preach, it’s what you tolerate.  If you allow the status quo to persist, you can’t expect to improve performance, and you can’t expect to win.

I thought a great example of this was evident from the Houston Texans football coach (Bill O’Brien – BO in the interview below) after his team lost to the New England Patriots last night (14 Jan 2017).  Here is an excerpt from his press conference:

Q: You guys have been 9-7 three straight years. Winning two AFC South titles, get to this point, and play the Patriots in a close game. Is it clear to you even post-game that for you guys to take that next step, the offense has got to take the next step?

BO: Yeah, and again, it starts with me. I don't point fingers. I look in the mirror. I look right square in the mirror and I figure out what I can do better. And I'm already thinking about that right now. You can't have the offense where it's at in this league, and expect to win a championship. And so we've got to figure it out, we've got to improve. I think special teams needs to be more consistent. Obviously you can't give up kickoff returns. Sometimes we look like a great special teams unit. Other times we look like a bunch of, I've got to be careful here, but we look like…not very good. And then offensively, we have to get better. It's pretty obvious. It's not rocket science. It's pretty obvious. I thought our guys fought hard today, and like I said, the Patriots are a great team and this was a tough game.

Q: Billy, you say it's on you…

BO: I'm the head coach.

Q: Is it on personnel too, delivering on the field?

BO: No, it's coaching. We've got to get better, coaching better. We'll evaluate…I'm responsible for a lot of things around here. I'm responsible for the product on the field, so I'm going to try and do a better job. I'm going to work hard to do a better job.

Q: There's a fine line between coaching and on-field execution.

BO: Again, I think it's all about making sure we are putting them in the right position to make plays. Guys, obviously they need to go out there and make plays. They're paid to do that. Again, I look at myself right away. That's the way I was brought up, that's what I believe in. I think we have a good football team. We are better than what we played tonight. I believe in coaching. I think coaching in this league is a very, very, very large part of success, as witnessed tonight on that sideline. So I think that we can do better, and that starts with me.

 Great example of “Extreme Ownership” in action.  It is on us as leaders.  We can’t blame our customers, the Board, the weather, the budget, our higher headquarters, our subordinates, or anyone / anything else.  When we come up short, it starts with that person looking us in the mirror.  Every time!

Anyway, truly recommend the book.  I promise some of you will want to have all of your team read it.  Set up a little study group and have some discussions on what Ownership and Accountability mean within your team! 

Take some time to think about what you are doing to hold yourself, and others accountable.  Do what you say.  Walk the Talk.  Lead the Way!  That's Leader Business

P.S. For those interested, you can find the full list of upcoming Leadership “Boot Camps” for 2017 – here!  We have a number of “Open Enrollment” 3-day programs throughout the year in Los Angeles, San Diego, and the Inland Empire (San Bernardino).  Let’s talk about giving some of your team members the boost that comes from this kind of intense leadership program!  We teach accountability, goal setting, and the writing of a personal leadership philosophy in these high-impact programs.

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