Where once it had been raining clients, business is different for today’s professional service firms, namely accounting and law firms. What happened?

“It’s the economy,” you might say, “Completely out of our hands.” The truth is that the economy has only exposed the real problem, i.e., poor business development habits and lack of accountability.

As a leader in your firm or organization your performance is based on the performance of your people. Of course, it always takes two to tango.

On the one side, there are people who come in to work every day but don’t know what to do or how to do it, and they are not being given the support and time necessary from leaders of the firm to create business opportunities (real or perceived).

On the other side we have leadership (managing partner(s) and senior partners) who often do not understand why their people are not out there beating the bushes; after all, “We did it when we started; why can’t they do it?” There are definitely generational issues playing into all this, too.

The bottom line is that without accountability, NO endeavor reaches a successful desired outcome.

So who is responsible for holding these people accountable?

That would be YOU.

Leaders sometimes think they have accountabilities in place because they have some metrics/goals set up. With a closer look we see this is just a form of micromanaging – there is much more to a true accountability system.

Don’t get me wrong, this is all quite understandable – after all, business has been good and you haven’t needed to hold people accountable. But that’s just not going to fly anymore.

“In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves…self-discipline with all of them came first.” – Harry S. Truman (1884-1972), 23rd President of the United States

To achieve accountability, you need three things:
1.    A culture.
2.    A process.
3.    You.

Let’s talk about you.

What has the greatest impact on whether people are held accountable? You do.

What can you do to stop being frustrated by other people’s lack of accountability? You can stop focusing on other people and start focusing on yourself.

I know what you might be thinking: I’m not the one with the problem! I believe you. You’re probably a highly motivated, dedicated and hard working professional. You probably excel at getting things done. You probably are an outstanding CEO, Manager or Managing Partner. So let’s agree on that: You’re not the problem.

However, you can be the solution–or a large part of it. And that’s good news. If your staff is not performing up to snuff, you can change that situation by changing the way you lead. It begins when you establish a process that holds your people accountable for the business results you desire and deserve.

The buck starts with you. Demonstrate accountability first, so that others will learn from–and with–you. When your behavior changes, accountability begins!

This is what my system is all about. So stay tuned for the next Accountability Lesson, where I’ll tell you about an accountability strategy that will pay big dividends in return for your efforts.

Until then,