The conversation around performance is always a tricky one. When I walk into a new working relationship with a CEO/Leader, I often hear the word accountability as a desired outcome. When I explore it I hear stories that illustrate a leadership style that starts with ‘hands off/you own it” and generally ends up with “Letting them know my frustration / taking on the task myself”. When this is the story, I can guarantee a leader that those they lead are not owning the results because the leader is not giving them the appropriate space and support to do the right thing.
Here is one shift a leader can make to start down the path of being a better supporter/coach and ultimately increasing the accountability they see with their team.
No Excuses . . . .
The definition of an excuse when it is used as a verb – attempt to lessen the blame attaching to (a fault or offense); seek to defend or justify. If you are managing an english major or someone with Google skills, they might point out that as a noun the definition is a reason or explanation put forward to defend or justify a fault or offense. In either case, excuses are put forth because a person feels the need to defend their action. Excuses start us down the path of establishing guilt, penalty, or innocence vs blame. It could track back to the culture established by the previous leader – which is an excuse in itself!
Lots of Reasons . . .
The definition of a reason is a cause, explanation, or justification for an action or event. Reasons require thought and analysis. When we know the reasons, we are one step away from offering what accountability demands – a next step and an owner.
Leaders – spend a day interacting with your people and what do you hear more of? How do you react to each and what part are you playing to encouraging reasons to be shared and not excuses.
When I look at one on ones / meeting formats for leadership teams I look for a habit of sharing reasons and actions vs excuses. Listen for them – encourage them – and be ready to offer them yourself. If you don’t live this mantra yourself – it becomes another management mantra that will scare people, not empower them. People are tired of wondering if they are On the Right Bus or on the right end of the Hire slow/fire fast process.
There are Lots of Reasons, and No Excuses in any healthy, accountable, and high performing team/culture. Go build one.