Leadership Development Series Part III: Invest in Your Organization
Over the past two weeks, I’ve been discussing the types of investments Disciplined Leaders consistently make. Today, the focus of the final part of this series is on investing in your organization. Why is this so important? As highlighted in MAP’s book, “The Disciplined Leader,” every month, more small businesses in the United States, defined as 500 or fewer employees, close than start up. Of those that make it beyond the first few years, half fold within five years while 70+ percent fail within 10 years. While there are countless reasons why organizations fail, most lack a solid foundation on which they can grow and evolve into thriving, successful ventures. At MAP, we believe that foundation is an accountability system, driven and backed by accountability leadership, or leaders who “walk their talk.” Want to create a winning culture of accountability? Then you, the leader, must invest time, energy and other resources toward such a system for the benefit of your organization. Do this, and you’ll be more likely to get positive results, creating the ROI you both want and need to thrive.
As outlined below, accountability works when you’ve got a solid system in place, implement the training to reinforce it, and demonstrate the ability to stay the course when times get tough.
A solid system. Accountability needs to be taken seriously for it to work. So the best approach is to put a formal system in place, one that gets every team member on the same page and focused on the right goals and measures. At MAP, we call these measures Vital Factors, and each measure is a key indicator of the organization’s health. We implement Vital Factor meetings for the purpose of reviewing these measures, assessing what’s working and what’s not and then establishing corrective actions if needed. Regardless of what you call your meetings, setting up this very structured framework, with regularly holding accountability meetings, is a proven solution for tracking results and making progress toward your goals.
Training. A good accountability system tends to be very mechanical in nature. Most likely, it’s also a different way of doing things in your organization. For both of these reasons, it’s smart to train your people how to use and participate in the system. When you take the time to educate them around the process and why it’s effective, you’ll get greater buy-in and understanding around this new modus operandi. In particular, as soon as you hire someone, make sure you indoctrinate them into your accountability system, communicating the expectations and training them on how it works so that hire is clear from the start about what he or she is being asked to do. Of course, make sure you’re providing the resources needed to do what you’re asking of new and veteran hires alike.
Ability to stay the course. Almost every organization experiences rough waters when implementing an accountability system. Some leaders will find that people initially push back against being held accountable for their Vital Factors. Others might want to revert to old ways when external forces pose a threat to the company’s health and vitality. As the leader, it’s your responsibility to expect these and other challenges. Don’t cave when times get tough or people pressure you to go back to your old ways. Instead, embrace these teaching moments as opportunities to stress the importance of both this system and your accountability leadership—your ability to courageously model and reinforce the very mindsets and activities you’re demanding of your people.
What tips can you share about creating an effective accountability system?