Monday May 1, 2017

Illuminating Accountability

In preparation for her upcoming Center for Leadership Executive Development program, we asked Linda Galindo to reflect on leadership accountability.

What is the most frequent struggle you see leaders having when it comes to accountability?

The most frequent struggle I see when it comes to leaders and accountability is not being clear and up front about what is expected. So when it comes time to hold people accountable, leaders tend to waiver because they cannot remember what they are holding people accountable for.

Therefore, be clear and up front about what is expected, and then treat people as if they are capable and able to get the job done and meet expectations, so that when they need to hold someone accountable with consequences, it is not a surprise. I was clear and up front, and now it comes time to answer for it, and I am going to treat you as if you are capable and able. We made sure you have the resources and the skills to get this done, and instead of rescuing, fixing and saving — so that that person can say they met the expectations — actually holding them accountable. That is the biggest struggle I am coming into right now.

From your perspective, how can individuals help others recognize that they need to help hold themselves personally accountable?

Having people recognize that they need to hold themselves personally accountable starts with what they’re getting that they don’t want, and often what that is turns out to be being micromanaged. Why am I being micromanaged, or managed so closely? (However, usually it comes out as that term micromanaged.) It is saying that you have to look at why someone is always right on top of everything you are doing, and it feels as if you are being suffocated and
not being able to do what you are capable of.

What may be happening is that when it comes time to be accountable, there is an excuse, a reason, denial, deflecting and delaying of what needs to be owned up to and acted on.

So, the first thing I want to say to people is that you need to go and ask, is there something I am doing that is making it look as if I will not be answering for the results that are expected of me. Instead of saying, “You need to stop micromanaging me because I am accountable,” ask for input in areas where it does not appear that accountability is there. These very mild excuses, blaming or finger pointing are really what people experience first, and unknown to each of us, that might be [causing them to treat] us the way that they are.

Therefore, the question is, is it something I am doing that causes you to doubt that I am going to produce the results I am expected to? This starts with getting that feedback. 

Can you tell me, at the end of having people more personally accountable or learning at the leadership level what accountability is about, what you want? What do you see at the end of the day that is creating the kind of organizational leadership, development or performance that you want? Give me the picture of what you do want. This is challenging. Often we have to stop the call or the interaction there so that the individual can think about it. Concisely, it is that people are experts on what they do not want; they are not very good at defining success in terms of what they do want.

What is one of the most exciting things that you are working on right now?

A radio show! When I talk, when I give these amazing, fun keynote talks, people walk up to me and say that they wish they had me in their back pocket. They wish that I were there every day because this concept of accountability that they thought was going to be rather boring and drawn out turned out to be rather beneficial. In addition, they will say that they are very glad that they stayed for the presentation … they would love to have me by their side on a daily basis to remind them that we do, in fact, have personal accountability that we can use to solve some of our most pressing problems.

Teaching people how to think in accountable terms, how it applies to them, how to use it for themselves first, has become intriguing to me around a radio show, where you are listening [and can] put yourself in the situation of the caller or the situation being described, and [determine] how you address [the issue] with accountability. That is pretty exciting.

We have been doing demo shows, we have been writing scripts, and we have been talking to people about how this format would best work. It is incredibly fun. When I first started my career as a radio broadcast-journalist, I was known as the radio news personality, so I am going to get to use that again. Very slowly we are ramping up to see if we can get it back on the air with this radio show [about] accountability. I cannot wait.

What is the most important message that you want leaders to hear?

The most important message today is treating everyone the same is not the same as being fair. For leaders, it is giving people what they need to thrive. In one of the simplest models that I have been using for many years, if you see each person where they are relative to accountability, do they need to be mentored? Many people are leaving organizations because they want to fully utilize their skills and tools, and they are too closely managed and they do not need to be managed. On the other hand, there are individuals who are great assets to your organization, but they need some coaching. They do not need to be managed, and they do not need to be mentored. Instead, they need to be coached. Then there are those who really would benefit from close management. They may not necessarily like it, but it is what they need.

To leaders, my most pressing message right now is to look at what you are working with. Do you need to mentor, coach or manage a certain individual? Treating everyone the same is not the same as being fair. Give them what they need to thrive, and they will become — and stay — engaged.

The second thing is to remember that you cannot mandate personal accountability; you can only demonstrate it. Get your own house in order first. Then you will be very credible about this message of accountability that you want to see in other people.
What are your hopes or visions for leaders into
the future?

Today I was actually writing a blog post that had a lot to do with my hope and vision for leaders in the future. It is pointing to examples of things that have worked when leaders have gotten very clear about their visions. My hope is that they get up every morning and really look at the vision that they have for the reality they want, and to start seeing if their own behaviors match up to that.

For example, I want a very empowered workforce. People who are responsible, take risk, and answer for their results. Also, for more leaders to understand that they have to put in place what they want more than what they do not want, in their vision for themselves.

I would say that my biggest hope for leaders going into the future is that they actually have an articulated vision that people can follow. That is really lacking right now. Again, I said it earlier; I am very clear on what many of the leaders I work with do not want. I hear it day in and day out.

I wish that people were more personally accountable. I wish that our leaders would lead more clearly so that we can be a part of something great. What that vision is sometimes is not articulated clearly, thus, there is not a good chance that it will be followed. My hope is that leaders get clear, articulated visions and that they invite people to be a part of something great in their organizations.



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