interview by Gary Bradt, Psy.D.
Who: Roger Connors and Tom Smith, New York Times bestselling authors and co-CEOs/co-presidents of Partners in Leadership Inc., an international provider of accountability training and consulting services.
What: Co-authors of The Oz Principle: Getting Results Through Individual and Organizational Accountability
What's on their minds: "This lack of clarity around results has created an accountability crisis in organizations. Because of unclear results, people have come to generally feel that accountability is something that happens to them when things go wrong, rather than something they do to themselves to ensure success and achievement."
1. Why has the notion of accountability become so relevant today?
The notion of entitlement is a strong characteristic of the American culture today. People tend to have unrealistic expectations about the risks they take and the consequences of those risks. In fact, they may be somewhat detached from reality both in terms of their personal success, as well as the impact of their personal failures.
It is easy to become a victim in today's world. Life is complicated and there are so many factors that affect us that are outside of our control. However, when we allow ourselves to feel the victim, we adopt a mindset that causes us to get stuck and not move forward in solving problems and getting results.
In our book, The Oz Principle, we present a model of positive accountability. The model is divided in half by a line. Above the line are the steps you take to greater accountability, to see it, own it, solve it and do it. Below the line is the blame game or victim cycle where we get frustrated with our circumstances. It is not wrong to go below the line, it is just human nature. It is also not very effective to spend too much time there.
2. How can an organization's leader clearly define and communicate the results he or she wishes to achieve? What are the best strategies for better communicating what's needed?
Accountability begins by clearly defining results. It's difficult to effectively hold yourself or anyone else accountable for unclear results. In our recent Workplace Accountability Study, we found 86 percent of those polled felt the key results they needed to obtain were not clearly defined and understood throughout their organization. Another whopping 94 percent felt that people throughout their organization were not effectively aligning their daily work with the key results the organization needed to obtain.
This lack of clarity around results has created an accountability crisis in organizations. Because of unclear results, people have come to generally feel that accountability is something that happens to them when things go wrong, rather than something they do to themselves to ensure success and achievement.
Leaders must clearly define and articulate the key results the organization needs to achieve. Then, they need to create an environment of positive accountability-the kind of accountability we talk about in our book-where people take personal ownership and get invested in achieving those results.
3. How do you help people take greater personal accountability?
First, listen to them when they go below the line; they need to feel heard. Second, help them identify the obstacles that keep them from progressing. Third, help them see that it is more effective to ask, "What else can I do?" and get above the line. Then, coach them to see it, own it, solve it and do it. When they feel your supportive coaching as you work to lift them above the line, they will come to recognize that taking greater personal accountability empowers them to make progress they would have never otherwise made.
Gary Bradt, Psy.D., is an author, clinical psychologist, leadership consultant, C-Suite executive coach and speaker on the topic of adapting to and leading through change. Contact him at www.GaryBradt.com.