We are in a brawl with few rules, where the fast, flexible, and agile will eat and spit out the slow, over-thinking, and complacent. In the past, change was episodic, transient, and gradual; now, change is constant as business, technology, and society itself continue to evolve at an ever more rapid pace. Individuals, teams, and organizations that fail to adapt will find themselves vulnerable, uncomfortable, and at the mercy of other people, events, or the competition.
Accountability is the catalyst to accelerated change, robust employee engagement, intensified ownership, relentless perseverance, impeccable alignment, and it propels individuals, teams, and organizations to intoxicating heights of achievement and success.
Accountability crumbles silos, boosts teamwork and collaboration, strengthens camaraderie, creativity, resiliency, agility, trust, and communication.
Accountability continues to be a topic high on the list of interest of executives and organizational leaders. What we find more interesting is that accountability is just as high on the list of what employees want from their peers. Everyone wants more!
There are myriad reasons individuals, teams, and organizations crave more accountability. Some that are listed below may strike close to home. What would you add to the list?
Increased Competition Commoditization
New Technologies Increased Shareholder Demand
Pressure to Innovate Shrinking Margins
Globalization Talent Wars
Economic Downturns Penetrating New Markets
Nonstop Change Doing More with Less
Brand/Reputation Management Political Uncertainty
Destructive Competition Sea of Sameness (Differentiate)
With the world coming at you fast and furious every day, it is easy to feel like you have lost control of your life, your team, or your organization. By choosing to take and lead accountability, you reclaim control and are able to direct your own destiny, as well as the fate of your team or organization. Accountability is a current that feeds into the slipstream of success. Your performance, your decisions, and your results are all within your control; when you operate from that premise, magic happens. You deliver like never before because you are personally invested in the outcome.
The white waters of change are unnerving for many. But the fact is they will only become more turbulent. For organizations and employees who are unprepared, the future will be devastating.
The need for increased levels of personal and organizational accountability has never been higher. And that need will expand daily.
1. There are companies and entrepreneurs at this moment looking to reinvent the way your business is done. How many bookstores were wiped out because of Amazon.com? What happened to Kodak? Blockbuster? Sears? Woolworth’s? Nokia? Rest assured there are some college students ensconced in a dorm room somewhere about to revolutionize your industry.
2. How many jobs have been expunged, teams eliminated, and firms driven to extinction due to ERP, SAP, the Internet, or White-Collar Robots (EX: Cash Machines). Blue-collar robots came and triumphed. Are you, your team, and your company confident that the value you exhibit outweighs these options? What are you doing to take accountability for your future success?
3. MIT’s No. 1 computer guru, Michael Dertuzos, said not long ago that India could easily boost its GDP by a trillion dollars in the next few years. How? By performing “backroom” white-collar tasks for Western companies. He estimated that fifty million (white-collar) jobs could be sucked from the West and transplanted to India, at less than half the cost. What are you doing to take accountability to make certain one of those jobs is not yours in the future?
4. It took thirty-eight years for the radio to get to fifty million users. The Internet got there in four years. Change is coming at us faster than ever before. There is no time to rest on our success. Success often leads to complacency, and complacency kills. What is your plan to take accountability to keep up with the pace of change?
5 In his book, Change or Die: The Three Keys to Change at Work and in Life, Alan Deutschman, cites that only one in nine people will make lifestyle changes (diet, exercise, etc.) after they are told they could prolong their life, restore their health, and even reverse diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. Even when people know that these relatively simple changes can potentially save their lives, 90 percent choose to not take accountability to do so. Imagine the gargantuan task leaders face in order to create heightened levels of personal accountability for organizational objectives when only 10 percent of people will make simple changes to save their own lives.
6 Every job being performed by white-collar workers employed in any corporation is also being performed by someone on the outside that can be hired as a consultant to do the same work, probably with higher quality, and at a lower cost. How are you, or your team taking accountability to make sure you or your department survives in the new world of work?
7 Whether individually, as a team, or organizationally if you cannot answer these three questions in a compelling manner, you are in trouble: What is the overt benefit I/we offer? What reasons can I/we point to as to why anyone should believe I/we are the best option? How am I, or are we, dramatically different from all other options?
Individuals, teams, and organizations that are mired in the blame-game, self-pity, excuse-making, cynicism, and apathy, and that lack alignment and ownership to achieve what matters most, are in jeopardy. When you relinquish accountability, you place your future in the hands of fate. It is only by taking accountability and ownership for our circumstances that we can achieve what matters most. Today is the day to start owning your situation and take control—to orchestrate and realize the future you want.
Those who will survive and thrive in this new world of work are individuals, teams, and organizations that can maintain high levels of accountability and remain focused on must-achieve desired results.
To take and lead accountability? If not you, who?
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