I was just reading a wonderful book called “Girl Wash Your Face”, and it suddenly dawned on me that while we are really great at holding others accountable, we often break the promises that we make to ourselves. If you aren’t holding yourself to at least the same standard as you hold others, what does it say about your leadership skills? After all, being a leader isn’t a bed of roses. If something goes wrong in your team or department, it is vital that you put up your hand and take ownership of the mistake as well as take accountability for your actions, instead of finding a scapegoat.
While this must be the hardest thing you will ever have to do, refusing to hold yourself accountable for a mishap can have disastrous effects that ripple throughout the business. First, it sets a poor example and establishes a culture of “pass the buck” throughout your organization. Secondly, if you take responsibility for something, then fail to get it right and don’t own up to your failure, your team will lose trust in you. If people start mistrusting you, they will feel less aligned with the company values and become less transparent, honest, and collaborative. In addition, if you hold your team accountable but refuse to take accountability for your own failures, it breeds resentment, which can erode the organization down the road.
In a global leadership study, 72% of people expressed concern that leadership accountability is a critical issue in their organization. Remember that as a leader, you’re answerable at all levels. Here are a few tips to help you create accountability in your life and become a better leader.
Self-Introspection; “Am I Holding Myself Accountable”
As a leader, you must always be super aware of holding yourself accountable, because no employee will ever give you an honest opinion on this issue, no matter how much you ask. First things first, your language is usually the first indicator of whether you are holding yourself accountable or not. At the first signs of finding yourself evading ownership, amend your behavior before the habit takes root.
Remember to use a tone and language that demonstrates your intent of ownership if you instill confidence in yourself. Observe yourself as a third person. When confronted with an issue, do you automatically say, “that was my mistake”? Is it easy for you to admit that you haven’t got the answer to a question? Even if you are willing to own up to your mistake, do you launch a tirade of excuses?
Review Yourself Periodically
As leaders, we always have our hands full with reviewing our subordinates, in order to understand what they are working for and whether their performance is at par. However, we hardly do the same for ourselves. Why not evaluate ourselves justly, be it quarterly, semi-annually, or annually?
Take some time out from your hectic schedule to perform a self-review. Ask yourself what you have accomplished since the last review against what you hoped to accomplish, how are you making good on your goals, what have you learned since the last review, what challenges did you encounter and how you dealt with them, plus what were your losses and success so far? This simple process can transform your productivity and success.
At the end of each review, write down your goals for the next review, as well as any habits or skills you would like to hone to bring you closer to your goals.
I’m constantly reviewing my own performance, and I’m not afraid to tell myself when my performance is not up to par. Just remember that a leader that blames others is destined to fail, because they would rather point fingers rather than review their own performance.
Reward Your Accomplishments And Milestones
Just as important it is to be brutally honest with yourself and keep yourself in check, leaders also need to unplug and unwind just like normal humans. I used to slave away at work until I realized the negative impact it was having on my personal and professional life, not to mention, my health. Once I realized the benefits of taking time off, I started using my accomplishments and milestones as indications of when it is fine to take off and unplug to recharge.
You can keep putting off a much-needed respite by enticing yourself with a promise of longer vacation next year, but it’s important to step away occasionally to regroup and just relax. In fact, why stop at a yearly vacation? Just like you offer intrinsic and extrinsic rewards to your employees to keep them motivated, why not celebrate your own mini accomplishments and goals? Nailed a client? Go celebrate at your favorite restaurant. Completed your to-do list for the day? Unwind with a beer and your favorite show.
Think Of What’s Best For The Company
All the great leaders realize that true success is when the entire company is doing well. Success is never a one-man show. It’s not about simply seeking glory or furthering oneself. Therefore, if you don’t know something, it is OK to admit that in front of your team. If you made a mistake, own up to it so that you can work on the outcome, rather than playing a blame game. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it, since your ultimate goal is to see the project through, even if you failed at first. If you want to be a great leader, you should be willing to make hard decisions and own up to them if they turn out to be wrong.