Culture and communication continue to be key conversations with business owners and leaders. For good reason. They’re vital in establishing accountability. Every experienced leader knows without accountability there can be no sustainable improvement or growth.
Our growth and improvement individually hinge on our willingness to be accountable to others, and our willingness to let others be accountable to us. This week a local sports talk radio station interviewed retired Dallas Cowboy tight-end Jay Novacek. They were reminiscing about the glory days when Jay played with Troy Aikman, Emmit Smith, and Michael Irvin. Jay said those teams really enjoyed being together. They had good chemistry. It prompted the radio hosts to ask him, “Was the chemistry good because you guys won, or did you guys win because of the chemistry?” Without hesitation, Jay said, “We won because of our chemistry.”
It’s true with sports teams, business or organizational teams. If real estate lives and dies by the motto, “Location, location, location” then our businesses live and die by “culture, culture, culture.” It’s a major distinguishing factor between successful and failing organizations. Cultures aren’t created equally any more than real estate locations. Some are way better than others.
If you don’t begin to create or correct your culture so it incorporates one vital component – ACCOUNTABILITY – then it’s likely that you’ll be in the same spot 5 years from now. The problem is, the market is going to change. And your company may not survive. It’s the high price we’ll all pay for sitting on our butt thinking we’ll somehow get by on our own.
I can readily tell you that the most underrated characteristic of high achieving businesses and organizations is accountability. CEOs and business owners who shy away from it have no chance of building a culture of accountability. And I know why some shy away from it. They’re afraid. They don’t understand it. They’re ignorant of how great things could be with accountability.
Accountability isn’t a police action.
You own the joint. I completely understand. But don’t confuse your ownership with some delusional idea that you don’t need accountability in your life, or that your people don’t need it in theirs.
Culture is a bit different than personal accountability in that you’re the boss, so you dictate the philosophy and principles by which your company operates. If it’s important to you, then it’s going to be important to the company. That’s the influence and power you weld. As it should.
All the more reason to be careful about the culture you want to create. Don’t be haphazard. Or bashful to show your organization how you’re willing to accept accountability for your role as the Chief Leader, #1. Be willing to be accountable to your entire company. You are anyway. So you may as well embrace it, own it and celebrate it.
It doesn’t mean that people impose on you. They can’t. Unless you let them. And as a business owner, you’re not likely going to do that. Nor should you. Truth is, nobody can tell you what you ought to do. You can accept input, feedback, and suggestions, but you get to decide for yourself and for the organization. In that regard, accountability isn’t a police action. It’s more of you deciding something, then being willing to have the organization hold you to it. You’re the policeman, but even cops need high accountability because with much authority and responsibility comes elevated accountability if we’re going to perform at the highest levels.
Accountability isn’t punishment.
Another myth is that accountability is punitive. While it can be, that’s not at the heart of the matter.
Instead, it’s among the highest levels of service you can offer, or be offered. Don was an alcoholic for almost 20 years. Highly functioning, but still an alcoholic. He admitted that for almost 10 of those years he wanted to stop drinking. He was mostly a closet alcoholic. So he tried everything he knew to get sober on his own. He read books. He educated himself on his affliction. Knowledge didn’t help. And Don quickly realized that lack of knowledge wasn’t his problem. Accountability was. He said to me, “Nobody can get sober alone.” I’m a teetotaler, meaning I don’t drink alcohol at all (never have). But I trust what he tells me about overcoming this challenge.
Don decided to go to somebody. Somebody he knew he could trust to hold him accountable. Within a short period of time, Don was free from alcohol ruling his life. He’s determined and committed, but so is the person holding him accountable. They’re in it together. Don said he increasingly was driven to not let himself down, but he didn’t want to let down the person working so hard to hold him accountable either.
It’s been just under 10 years since Don had his last drink. Ask him if accountability is punishment and he’ll quickly correct you by telling you it’s a supreme degree of service. It changed his life. It’ll change everybody’s – or anybody’s life. Yours. Mine. And the people who work for us, too.
Accountability is for all of us. We’re in this together.
If your end of the boat sinks, so does mine. That’s the culture of accountability. It’s the difference maker. Like Don overcoming alcoholism, or a salesperson struggling to achieve success, or an accounting clerk struggling to keep up the workload, accountability is THE service of helping people improve and grow.
The reason most people don’t grow or improve is largely due to their lack of accountability. Sparked mostly by their unwillingness to submit to being served. Or their unwillingness to serve others.
Self-improvement is a paradox. It incorrectly presupposes that we can do it for ourselves. All by ourselves. Shockingly, I don’t know a single person who has ever achieved it that way. Every high performing person I’ve ever met has had help. Somebody willing to help hold them accountable for what they want to accomplish.
Like everything else in your company, it all begins and ends with you, the owner. Look around at how well, or how poorly you’re serving and being served when it comes to accountability. Be honest. Face the truth. If it’s not as impactful or effective as it could be, then set about the change the truth. Get busy building a high accountability culture. And watch the improvement and growth start to happen.
Be well. Do good. Grow great!