My husband Rob and I are very passionate about business owners having a business that is working hard for them, rather than them working very hard for it. When we come across business leaders who say things like, by and large…
…we know that those business owners have a culture of empowerment.
From nearly 18 years experience of business coaching and mentoring business owners, we know these results have not been achieved by accident. It requires a lot of blood, sweat and tears to build a highly effective team of people who are empowered and committed to their role, the business and the clients they serve.
Results like the ones I mentioned in the beginning of this post are a direct reflection of the degree to which any or all of 1 or 2 or 3 of the following behaviours are embedded into the business culture.
One behaviour displayed by highly effective teams is taking responsibility. No matter what is happening, effective people take responsibility for the outcome. They LOOK FOR AND FOCUS ON SOLUTIONS to challenges that arise, not the challenge itself. They ask themselves, “What is the real problem here? What is the solution/s to this problem? What can I do to fix it? What can I get other people to do to fix it?”
Therefore for you to be an effective leader, you are to acknowledge the role you play in your own life and business – the “good” bits and the “bad” bits. Rather than looking around for someone or something else to blame, you must accept that you are responsible for what is going on. Then you are able to respond to what is going on rather than react to what is going on.
‘Respond’ means you are able to stand back and objectively observe what is going on. Most of us, however, are far more practiced at ‘reacting. Reacting comes from a lifetime of learned habits and behaviours we have had modelled to us by our parents and teachers. When things don’t go the way we want them to, reacting is usually our first response.
Reacting most likely makes the situation worse, responding helps make the situation better.
To encourage a culture of responsibility, asking questions like “Why hasn’t this been done?” only sends others to the ineffective behaviours discussed last week – denial, justification and blame. A better question to ask is “Mary, what do we have to do to ensure this doesn’t happen again?”. We’re starting the process of growing a culture of responsibility.
For example, I’ve worked with many business owners who “know” when someone on their team continues to be low-performing. Instead of complaining about that person, they put in place a plan to manage their performance up to and including transitioning them out of the business if performance does not improve. The outcome of their taking responsibility is they are prepared make the tough decisions and take the tough action.
I’ve worked with business owners who go through a period of losing clients or team members. Rather than couching these losses in ‘positive thinking’ that their business is better of without them, they look at what improvements need to be made to their service or what they have to do to become an “employer of choice”.
Taking responsibility results in great decisions, effective communication and the results you are looking for from your business.
The second behaviour which leaders and teams display in high performing teams is being accountable. That means they hold themselves to account and are willing to be held to account for everything that they do and say. In other words, they know the “buck stops” with them. There is again, no one or nothing else to blame.
As leaders this also means that even if you were not involved in what has happened, the buck stops with you. There is no good reason or explanation required for it. Again it is about recognising what happened or didn’t happened for that situation to occur.
In last week’s blog I gave the example of the couple who left their 8-year old son in the rain at school because neither of them had gone and collected him at the appropriate time.
The husband could have acknowledged that he had forgotten and had got busy (not make it an excuse). He could have asked one of his employees to remind him in time to go and collect his son (because he knows he’s forgetful and gets busy). Likewise, the wife, before she went into the client meeting, could have asked her executive assistant to go and remind her husband to collect his children (because she knows he gets busy and is forgetful – and she loves him for it!!). Their behaviour then would have modelled to the team that we all mistakes from time to time (and that’s OK) AND we are always looking for ways to improve things. It is not about making the other person wrong.
Accountability and responsibility are 2 words that very closely mean the same thing. In my opinion, the difference between the 2 comes from the ability to delegate effectively. I can delegate my responsibility for something to someone, but I can NEVER delegate my accountability.
The last behaviour is, in my opinion, the mother of all effective leadership behaviours. It is to take 100% ownership for everything that happens. It is even stronger than being responsible and accountable. It means that I am the owner of my own ship, indeed the owner of my own s**t.
EVERYTHING that happens to me or to my business, I MUST “own”. Again, even if you were not involved in the situation, it’s about owning your part in that situation. To get your employees to do what they are supposed to, give you and the clients the outcomes they want, whether you are there or not, you MUST own your part in ensuring they:
What I am learning about being responsible, accountable and taking ownership it that my focus is on finding a solution rather than focussing on the problem. Through my actions, I empower myself and others to solve the challenge with another person or with the situation we are facing.
Do you also believe these effective behaviours are important to have in your “toolbox”?
If you want to work on honing these effective tools, then Rob and I are here to help. For more than 18 years now, we’ve been working directly with business owners – and their leadership teams – to successfully add responsibility, accountability and ownership to their toolkits. The results are quite literally life-changing. If you’d like to know how life-changing it could be for you and your business, reach out for a confidential conversation. We’re here to work with you to create the business and lifestyle you’ve always wanted for you and your family.
What does it take to actually remove yourself from the day-to-day grind of business? Learn from our panel of Business Owners who've Been There, Done That.