Lack of Accountability: It’s Not a Good Look
I recently had a poor experience with a company I hired to complete a project. Over our three-month engagement, I repeatedly felt pushed aside and insignificant.
The company’s phone system sends its customers straight to voicemail, and after leaving messages on several occasions, I never received a call back. Trust me when I say my squeaky wheel received absolutely no grease. When I created the solution to go to the office in person, I saw new employee faces each time with the more familiar faces nowhere to be found. Employee retention seemed to be an issue, and the newer employees who took my questions couldn’t answer them. Instead, they told me they’d check with their boss and get back to me. The ‘getting back to me’ part never happened.
The project I’d hired this company to complete had a hard deadline that wasn’t met. Interestingly, the way I learned I’d miss my deadline was by taking the initiative to visit their office three days in advance and being told I wouldn’t have what I needed in the time frame we’d agreed upon. Had I not gone there to check on the project’s status, I don’t believe I would have received notification of the delay.
I was invited to meet with the leader of the organization a week later so he could share the final project with me. He began by sharing some files that weren’t familiar. Turns out they belonged to another client of his.
Be That Leader Others Want to Follow
As I left his office with my completed—albeit late—project, I thought of my clients— the leaders I get to work with. They’re ready to expand their leadership competence, confidence, and compassion. They want to be that leader others truly want to follow.
One way they accomplish that is through accountability—to themselves, their team members, and their clients.
They know the importance of:
Proactive leadership requires a ‘step back’ approach even when—especially when—you’re stressed and overwhelmed. Step back and see the many moving parts to allow yourself and your team to step forward and create a proactive plan that creates a front-end solution to potential problems.
Taking responsibility for their actions
A simple, “I’m sorry this took longer than I’d originally shared it would. This is my mistake, and I take ownership for it,” goes a long way. A message like that conveys respect, professionalism, and shows a desire to ensure the mistake doesn’t happen again.
Confronting problems directly
Avoiding problems can feel easier in the moment. In the long run, though, leaders who tackle the tough discussions and challenges head-on gain credibility, higher team retention, and more satisfied clients.
In the past few years, I’ve witnessed quite an increase in workplace transparency. I believe it’s one benefit the pandemic has brought us. It’s becoming commonplace to have open, honest, clear communication about what’s working and what’s not with a plan to improve the ‘what’s not’ items. It’s a refreshing change, and I’m all for it.
Being responsible for their team members’ outcomes
As a leader, you have authority over the expectations you set for your team. With great clarity and consistent feedback, you encourage your team members to be personally accountable with the understanding that any lack of accountability falls back on you.
Leadership Accountability Starts with You
Leadership accountability always starts with you, the leader. Undoubtedly, obstacles will get in the way. Such is life. A differentiating factor, however, between exceptional leaders and those who merely hold a leadership title is their willingness to be accountable and hold others accountable as well.
Based on my poor experience with the company I hired, I won’t be working with them again. For their current and future clients, though, my hope is that they’ll spend time creating accountability measures so they and their clients achieve far better results.