Ever heard the old adage, “Do as I say, not as I do”? It’s one your parents might have dropped on you as a kid. Maybe a teacher or a coach did too. Or, God forbid, a boss at work said that to you or a coworker. Why is it so bad if that happened? Well, for starters, it’s just kind of a silly thing to say as a professional. But more importantly, that statement is fundamentally flawed because it makes leaders only accountable for their instructions, not their actions. This is NOT the way to lead.
Why take it from me? Well, you don’t have to, because the message isn’t coming from me. These wise words come from none other than Sam Silverstein. Sam is the CEO of Sam Silverstein Enterprises, a think tank dedicated to helping companies create an organizational culture that prioritizes and inspires accountability. He’s also a leadership keynote speaker, a business advisor, the author of seven books, including Non-Negotiable, No More Excuses, and The Success Model…and he’s an alum of Onward Nation episode #817.
According to Sam, fostering accountability is about creating a work environment and culture that inspires accountability and employees working toward becoming the best they can be. As with many issues in an organization, it all starts at the leadership level. That means being a leader that is committed to the betterment of the company and its employees. People want to feel valued. They won’t want to let you down if you value them as unique, important individuals. They will want to be better for you and for the business.
The feeling of being valued is critical. Why? Think of the people you’re the most afraid of disappointing. I imagine it’s probably your parents, your spouse, your children, your siblings, or your closest friends. These are the people you have the most love and mutual respect for. You care about them as they do you. Now apply that to the workplace. If you can say with certainty that your boss cares about you, loves you, and respects you, you’re not going to want to let that person down. There’s no such thing as a business relationship or issue; if two people are involved, it’s personal.
Accomplishing this kind of environment and relationship is by no means an easy task. It begins with an evaluation of your company’s values. Why are your employees here? How do you want them to feel? When you get those answers, it’s time to ask the big one: What are you doing to help them feel that way? Sam says, “If you tell me how you want your people to feel, but yet you’re not doing anything to create that, you’re not doing your job.” This is where learning to build relationships comes in. Building relationships is a vital skill, one that requires authenticity, vulnerability, and honesty. These are the bedrock of relationships and the best ways to start fueling accountability in your workplace.
If you’re accountable, your employees will be less burnt out, happier at work, and more likely to hold themselves accountable as well. Bosses bark orders from the back; leaders lead the charge from the front. Heeding Sam’s wisdom could mean a foundational change in how your business operates and how you approach various scenarios across your life in leadership. It may seem like an impossible task. But, I know that you have the strength and gusto to get it done. Best of all, your employees know that too.