In any organization, leaders typically take the blame in any case of failure. Because of this your employees may be intimidated to take the next step and move up in their roles in fear of taking on new responsibilities. To change this behavior and create an environment where all levels can flourish and work as a team, view failure as a learning opportunity and make it a core principle of your culture—not a chance to place the blame.
How your organization can promote leadership accountability
What does accountability look like?
According to Michael Hyatt, a New York Times best-selling author: "[accountability] means that you accept responsibility for the outcomes expected of you—both good and bad. You don’t blame others. And you don’t blame the external environment. There are always things you could have done—or still can do—to change the outcome. Until you take responsibility, you are a victim. And being a victim is the exact opposite of being a leader. Victims are passive. They are acted upon. Leaders are active. They take initiative to influence the outcome."
As we stated earlier viewing failure as a learning opportunity, not a chance for blame, will encourage others in your organization to take on new responsibilities without fear. In fact, the importance of failure in the learning process is well-recognized. One way to accomplish this is to adopt the continuous improvement process as an accepted model among your leadership team. The process is an ongoing and joint team effort that organizations use to ultimately improve products, services and internal processes for breakthrough performance. This way, your team will know what action to take when a process succeeds or fails, all without placing the blame.
That said, failure is inevitable. Here's one example of taking stock and moving on, from the words of Susan Tardanico in a contribution to Forbes: "Look at the failure analytically — indeed, curiously — suspending feelings of anger, frustration, blame or regret. Why did you fail? What might have produced a better outcome? Was the failure completely beyond your control? After gathering the facts, step back and ask yourself, what did I learn from this? Think about how you will apply this newfound insight going forward."
When it comes time to define and clarify the roles of each member of the leadership team, work as an entire team to avoid the risk of confusion or disagreement. Clarifying roles also ensures that not everyone is responsible for every facet of the company. For example, if one member of the leadership team is able to communicate effectively with the greater team, he or she may flourish in a role that is responsible for managing others. And if another member of the leadership team works best strategically, he or she may be a better fit for a role that focuses on to operational efficiency.
Lead by example to motivate employees to achieve goals
By fostering an environment that empowers employees through failure and success you can help your team members see outcomes as useful insights, not a misstep. Use successful experiences as a way to formulate new company processes, and use failure as insight into what went wrong and how you can avoid it in the future. In accountable organizations, every one can work as a team to identify and analyze such insights to positively influence the culture, process and working environment of the company.
One of the best ways to ensure that accountability is shared across the board, is to set milestones. This way, your entire organization will feel more inclined to stay focused, meet quarterly goals and deliver on your competitive advantage. Don't forget to celebrate milestones either. Even the smallest gesture can go a long way in helping your employees overcome obstacles and achieve their goals.
If you're interested in learning more about leadership and professional growth in the workplace, check out our post on "How to Promote Opportunities for Growth."