Josh was standing in the middle of a group of people at a networking function, when all of a sudden a light bulb of awareness went off. He saw how he always had to get a word in – his ego was out of control. He knew this was how he was behaving at work, also, where he was a managing partner. He knew that he’d gotten complacent as a leader, and was dropping the ball on developing his people and keeping them accountable to him, themselves and the firm.
Luckily, he remembered hearing me deliver a talk about accountability, and he gave me a call to see if I could help him improve his leadership effectiveness.
“Even after hiring Alan, I couldn’t quite buy into the program,” Josh remembers. “I was willing to support the effort up to a point, but didn’t want it to take up too much of my time. Looking back, I think I hoped that Alan would somehow magically turn my employees into an accountable team.
And I’m happy to report that Alan did transform my people into accountable employees. He just didn’t do it the way I thought he would, with me on the sidelines. He did it by coaching me to be more accountable to myself. By helping me model accountability, and by learning to hold my people accountable to themselves. He did it by giving me tools we could all use to create accountability in our workplace.”
After a bit of a rocky start, Josh jumped fully on board. He totally embraced the accountability system and was meeting with his people every single week. In fact, he’s the one who first taught me the analogy of the airline pilot. He said he wouldn’t want to get on a plane with a pilot who’s become complacent about completing the pre-flight checklist.
“My staff started to come prepared every week with lots to talk about. It began to feel more comfortable for me and the people I was coaching. I began to see how effective accountability meetings really can be.
At that point, things shifted in my mind and I made a commitment to making it work. I began preparing for the one-on-one sessions, too. I reviewed the previous meeting notes and looped back on things my team members had brought up in the past.
To my amazement, using open-ended questions helped me see that my people often come up with better answers than I could have thought of on my own. I’ve worked hard at staying more on the “asking” side of the equation, and seeing the benefits, I’ve gotten a lot better at it.
One result of the trust that’s developed between me and my team is that people are coming to our accountability meetings with more sensitive issues, things they previously would not have discussed with me. Some of my managers have even started admitting when they don’t know what to do about a particular situation. We’ve created an environment that makes that okay.
Something else that surprised me: at the end of some coaching sessions, I hear ‘thank you.’ My employees sincerely appreciate my efforts, attention and guidance. I think they’re surprised, too. They didn’t expect to enjoy our time together so much. But they do, and I do. It’s working, and that’s obvious to all of us.”
Josh’s improved relationships and communication led to some other huge wins: He experienced double-digit increases in revenues and profits, took an early retirement to pursue his hobbies and passions, and left the company on a high note. And it was all thanks to accountability.