Alonzo and James meet weekly. They originally became acquainted at a local business expo. Although their respective businesses are very different, they realized that their skill sets are very similar. They are both strong in marketing their companies, and each of them has developed a high level of proficiency in leading. And they both happen to have had only minimal success with finding and hiring the right people.
There is also another glaring problem they each struggle with, and it’s the reason they get together each week. Both James and Alonzo are prone to getting sidetracked. They each have a tendency to bounce from one idea to the next, often without fully bringing those ideas to fruition or completion. They are creative visionaries who lack discipline. So their weekly meetings help force a measure of accountability that they would not have otherwise.
When they meet, they both talk about the projects they’re working on in their businesses, what progress they’ve made since the previous week, and what’s left to be done. They each take notes on what the other says so they can ask tough questions. They agreed early on that just getting together to chit chat might not be a good use of time. But getting together for the purpose of holding each other accountable would be beneficial, although they will admit that at times it can also be painful.
These men are part of a growing trend among business professionals who truly want to succeed. Gordon Tredgold is one of the top leadership and management experts in the world. In an article in Inc. Magazine, he said, “Accountability is the single biggest differentiator between successful and unsuccessful teams.”
The typical stereo-type of the entrepreneur is the brilliant visionary with a lower level of self-discipline. Someone like that has great ideas all day long, but is often challenged when trying to implement many of those ideas. Not because he or she can’t do it, but because they would rather dream up more new ideas than undertake the day-to-day drudgery of making those ideas happen.
Further, it is a common mistake among leaders that we want those under us to be held accountable for their action—or inactions—while we are often unwilling to be held to the same standard. We think, “But we’re special. There should be certain perks with the leadership role.” And there is an element of truth in that statement, but being a bad example should not be one of those perks. In fact, that may be one of the best ways to undermine morale quickly. If you’re above the rules or the standard that you set for the rest of the team, you will fail as a leader.
In the Inc Magazine article I mentioned earlier, Tredgold said, “Leadership defines culture, and if you want to create a culture of accountability, then it starts with you. You need to model the behaviors that you want to see in your organization.”
So if you need the added layer of discipline—and very few among us don’t need that—then finding a person to hold you accountable is a great first step. However, you need to understand some criteria. First, that person can’t be a subordinate or they will be afraid to confront you or actually hold you accountable. They also need to be strong enough to call you out, especially if you’re a forceful personality. That’s part of the reason that Alonzo and James work so well together. They are each strong leaders who aren’t afraid to say what they think.
At the same time, you need to be willing to hear what the other person is saying to you, and not react negatively. That is, after all, the whole point. We all have blind spots that we are, well… blind to. We don’t see them. And when someone points them out, we generally don’t like it. So we need to willing listen to the other person’s critique. Of course, that’s really easy to say but can be extremely difficult to do.
I would challenge you to find someone who will help hold you to a level of accountability. It will be good for your business and also for you personally.
By the way, we at Lighthouse Growth Resources have partnered with lots of business professionals, helping them to be more accountable and, therefore, more successful. Call us and let’s talk.
Tom Kraeuter for Bill Bayer