A Common Business Issue: Lack of Accountability Is a Symptom. The Problem is Fear

truthvmythWhen we are over-performing, the stage of success is filled with major players and acolytes; all accountable for their right to stand in the blazing footlights. On the other hand, when we underperform; the stage is often deserted apart from the chosen few, caught in the beam of a single spotlight, being asked to account for themselves.

The idea of measuring people to improve ‘accountability’ is also a hierarchical myth. Over-performers apart, it results in form filling to meet the ‘numbers’ and dodge the truth if needed – be it in the private (e.g. sales forecasting) or public (e.g. centralization of schools/hospitals statistics) sectors. A corporate board member of the world’s largest IT company referred this phenomenon to me as “…‘management’s perfumed pig’. What we need instead is truth!”
You, I, we, tick the boxes with answers so that hopefully, in management’s eyes, we aren’t singled out from the crowd. So where is the truth found?

Image courtesy of the Nikki Thomas Network

The journey starts by a commitment to treat successes and setbacks, as opportunities to learn what to repeat and avoid, with equanimity. Secondly, we answer fundamental questions about our behaviour and its effect:

  • What is it we do that aids/abets and what is the effect of this ‘helpful’ behaviour?
  • What is it we do that inhibits/hinders and what is the effect of this ‘unhelpful’ behaviour?
  • In the latter case, what could we do differently and what effect might that have?
  • Overall, what do we do/don’t do; knowingly/unknowingly that creates or somehow contributes to the successes and setbacks of ourselves and others?
  • And even if we were wise to all the answers to the above questions, do we choose the courage to act upon ‘the wisdom from failure’?

Lack of accountability is only the symptom. The problem is fear.

People are fearful of being perceived as failing or incompetent (by themselves as much as others). People thus fear being accountable.
If management were to have only one task, it’s not about measuring, it’s about releasing the fear in their organization and filling the subsequent void created with wisdom and courage.

An organization releases its fear and gets wise one person at a time, each of their own volition.

 

Shine on…!
/|\
Paul C Burr

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