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State It Once
A Culture of Accountability also helps eliminate redundancy. Focusing solely on a problem and not on the solution wastes resources on that redundancy. Everyone knows what the problem is – your energy and resources need to be focused on solving the problem. It may be productive to voice the problem once, but then it is time to move the momentum toward a solution to improve our position. Redundancy is not in many job descriptions.
A good example of the momentum of leadership would be a conversation like this:
Manager: “I’ve noticed Phil isn’t coming through with his assignments on time, and it’s getting to be a real problem for me.”
You: “I’ve noticed that, too. What’s causing it? Where have we failed to set specific timelines and expectations?” In pointing out that the failure may be on leadership’s shoulders, you’re looking into the mirror to find solutions.
State the problem once, eliminate redundancy, and move toward the solution.
Language momentum can be reversed, from any person in the organization.
Here’s an example:
In 1975, a movie about a mammoth killer shark was filmed. The title – Jaws. After this shark has eaten a few tourists, a town meeting is called where the mayor, the chief of police, the city council and some influential business owners are all in attendance.
Many see no other option but to close the local beaches to fend off any more attacks and more bad publicity. However, businesses in the community want to leave them open. This is the “high” season for tourists and closing the beaches now will bankrupt most of the community.
The argument goes back and forth between the two factions for several minutes. No ground is gained and neither of the two sides is willing to give an inch or find a compromise. The meeting is at a stalemate. The upper echelon of the town’s organizational chart is stuck in the problem. The arguing is getting louder and louder.
Then, the gut-wrenching sound of nails being dragged down the blackboard interrupts the argument. Suddenly the room is silent and necks are craned to see a simple fisherman sitting at the back of the room near the blackboard. When he has the room’s attention, he quietly offers, “I can kill that fish for $6,000.”
That pronouncement, made by the somewhat obscure and low-profile fisherman (who was probably not on anybody’s org chart), changed the entire momentum of the meeting, and also changed the direction and focus of an entire town. The simple fisherman had taken on the leadership role, and from that point forward, the town’s momentum had shifted to assembling the team that would kill that shark!
That’s the way it can work in any situation. It’s the leader’s job to reverse the momentum of negative interactions – and anyone can be the leader regardless of their position on the organizational chart. You can reverse the momentum by applying your skills and energy toward a new, positive outcome. When a conversation is in the past (with celebrations as an exception) you are probably focused on a “problem” or, perhaps, assigning blame. However, by changing the momentum and focusing the dialogue on the future, you are now working on a “plan.”
In short, you have the power to identify Accountability Gaps during interactions and fill them with Specificity. You have the power to identify when an interaction is “going negative” and reverse the momentum so that everyone involved in the interaction benefits!
Wipe out the Glossary of Failure within your team or your organization – use the Language of Specificity!
In the next four chapters, we will examine the four components of an accountability dialogue. This is where you learn to apply the language principles you just read. By including these Four Pieces of the Accountability Puzzle in our language, we increase individual and organizational performance!
• A Culture of Accountability is a culture where all team members hold each other accountable for their commitments in a positive and productive manner.
• “Potholes” occur when specificity of language is missing, particularly in making commitments. These potholes can be filled in with specific and accountable information.
• The Glossary of Failure contains the language we use that forecasts relationship or project failure. It’s ambiguous, lacks specificity and will assuredly lead to disappointment, failure and bad feelings.
• The opposite of the Glossary of Failure is the Language of Accountability – the Language of Specificity.
• It is the leader’s job to reverse the momentum of negative interactions and anyone can be the leader.
Henry Evans, Managing Partner of Dynamic Results, is the author of the best-selling book, “Winning with Accountability: the Secret Language of High Performing Organizations” and coauthor of “Step Up, Lead in Six Moments That Matter.” Follow Henry on Twitter, @HenryJEvans.
With the global success of our best-selling book “Winning With Accountability, The Secret Language of High Performing Organizations” (now with over 100,000 in print) we are giving you the third chapter in three installments. In this, the third installment, we share best practices for building and sustaining accountability in your culture.
Please enjoy Chapter Three with our compliments.
The preceding text is copyrighted material from the best-selling book; “Winning with Accountability, the Secret Language of High Performing Organizations.”
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