//What does it take to be accountable?

What does it take to be accountable?

2018-06-21T15:10:04+00:00

Want people to be accountable? Then be accountable to them. Encourage people to speak up and not be afraid. Not everything you hear will be good news—but if someone is afraid to speak up, they’ll never embrace being accountable.

Quality & Me

Subir shares short stories about what people do to make a difference everywhere they go. We can make huge contributions to the way we function as a society by standing out as an example within our own community: at work, at our places of worship, among our colleagues, friends, and family. All it takes is the courage to step up and being straightforward, thoughtful, accountable, and resilient.

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Books by Subir

The Power of LEO
The Ice Cream Maker
The Power of Design for Six
The Power of Six Sigma
Organization 21c

One of the components of developing a caring mindset is accountability.

Accountability is taking responsibility for your actions. It’s the “A” in STAR, and acronym I developed for what it takes to have a caring mindset.

But first, we need to take a step back. You can’t be accountable if you don’t know what’s going on.

You can’t know what’s going on if all you do is sit in your office, review spreadsheets, and commiserate with your peers.

If you want to know what’s going on in your organization – really going on – take a walk.

I tried for weeks to get a manager I was consulting with to connect with his team—things weren’t going well, and no one was being accountable. There was a clear disconnect between himself and his team of engineers. The manager blamed the engineers and vice versa.

“Let’s take a walk,” I told him. “Let’s go and talk to your team.”

I then heard every excuse under the sun – meetings, reports, no time. He finally admitted he wouldn’t know what to say to them.

Can you imagine? A manager who doesn’t know what to say to the people who work for him!

I told him, it’s easy: “Be yourself. Relax, smile, ask questions, and refrain from judging.”

Here’s my point: this manager was focused on processes—what people were doing. He wasn’t focused on the people aspect of problem-solving. He didn’t even know what to say to people.

Achieving exceptional results requires commitment to both processes and people. That’s why you need to get out of your chair and meet with the people who report to you—on their turf, and not in your office.

What someone says in your office doesn’t always reflect what’s really happening on the ground. People are afraid to accept accountability because they become intimidated. Meet them half way, and you’ll see a big difference!

Encourage people to speak up and not be afraid. Not everything you hear will be good news—but if someone is afraid to speak up, they’ll never embrace being accountable. There is a big difference between the action on the battlefield and the action in headquarters, miles behind the lines.

If you want accountability in your organization, make sure your team knows you respect, trust and believe in them.

Making Choices

Subir reflects on his arrival into the United States with the promise of a job, only to find that the promise is broken. Practically penniless, Subir searches deep into his soul. Undefeated and undeterred, Subir pursues professors and department heads until he meets one who asks: You went to 20 departments, and now it is the 21st one; if I say no to you what you would do? Subir tells him, "I will go to the 22nd." This is Subir's story, not of conquest, but of perseverance in the face of making difficult choices.

What do you do with a toothpick?

Think about the last time you picked up a piece of trash on the sidewalk, helped your neighbor without being asked, or thanked a co-worker for critical but necessary feedback. These are all small actions, but again, the sum is more powerful than the individual actions.

Have you gotten the “Wake-up” call to be straightforward?

A director I was consulting with always expected people to come to him. This guy really believed that no news was good news. Like a lot of senior level executives, he expected people to come to him, not vice versa. The problem was, no news wasn’t good news—it was the opposite. Problems weren’t getting resolved.

Frances Hesselbein Medal for Excellence in Leadership and Service

Is it culture, the weather, geography? Perhaps ignorance of what the right policies are? Simply, no. None of these factors is either definitive or destiny. Otherwise, how to explain why Botswana has become one of the fastest growing countries in the world, while other African nations, such as Zimbabwe, the Congo, and Sierra Leone, are mired in poverty and violence?