It’s vastly important to understand how much accountability builds trust in culture. When leaders don’t hold people accountable, the opposite is true. People feel it’s unfair: “Well, look what he did….and he got off free!”
It creates a sense of disappointment, inequity, and insecurity. You see this a lot in families where discipline is inconsistent, where a parent will hold one child accountable and not another, or will hold a child accountable in one situation and not another.
This was probably one of my most disappointing moments in my life (that relates to my family). For whatever reason, my brother approached me at band practice and tried fighting me. It was funny because I was just standing on the field, waiting for the instructor to hit the “go,” and then my brother said something blatantly rude, like he always does.
I was like, “huh?” And then I defended myself when he got completely belligerent. So, his friend at the time, who’s still the biggest asshole today, took him home before me so he can tell my mother what happened. I got home and both my mother and him teamed up on me. She literally listened to his story without hearing my side, even if she knew how manipulative he was. This is an example of her holding me accountable for something I didn’t do versus sitting us both down and saying, “hey, enough. What happened — happened. Get up stairs.”
- Listen to your language and to your thoughts. When things go wrong and you find yourself blaming or accusing others, stop. Draw back and ask yourself, How can I close the window and focus on the mirror? In your mind, compare the difference in establishing trust between an approach of blaming and pointing fingers versus an approach of taking personal responsibility.
- At work, Practice Accountability by holding your direct reports accountable for their actions. Always clarify expectations first so that everyone knows what they’re accountable for and by when. When people account to you, allow them to evaluate themselves first against the results you’ve agreed upon (most people will be tough on themselves than you’ll be); then follow through with the agreed-upon or natural consequences of people performing (or not). Remember, the people you rely upon most in your company — the performers — like to be held accountable and want others to be held accountable, too.
- Look for ways to create an environment of accountability in your home. Set up trust talks with your partner on matter you’ve agree to work together on, such as finances. Create agreements with your children concerning their responsibilities at home, and include consequences — both natural and logical, both good and bad. Follow through on your agreements. Give family members a person — and a culture — they can trust.