Abraham Lincoln said the best way to predict your future is to create it. One of the United States’ greatest presidents ackowledged that everyone is in control of their own destiny. Lincoln faced one of the biggest challenges of any president: slavery. With such a harshly divided nation, he could have easily become defeated by the challenges he faced. Instead, he did what all phenomenal leaders do — he led by example. Because of his leadership, the inhumanity of slavery was contained. He created a new reality, a new destiny. Today’s business leaders must also lead by example with the three Ps of accountability.
1. Personal Accountability
It’s easy to get caught up in deadlines and forget that work is a personal experience. Many people spend more time at work than anywhere else. When you spend this much time somewhere, the environment is bound to rub off on you. The sheer amount of time involved is why a company leaders influence is so impactful.
Your employees are watching you, and they are mimicking what you do. As such, it’s important to hold yourself accountable before you can expect to hold others accountable. Make yourself better first so that you can lead by example. This is difficult, as it requires self-awareness, which doesn’t come naturally to most of us, but is essential.
Leaders must also understand themselves before they can successfully lead others. If you take the victim stance, your employees will too, and then they’ll be harder to lead. Have a hero mentality in front of your employees and be open to their feedback about how you can improve as a leader. Ask them, “What would you like me to do more and less of as a leader?” Then, listen and take action.
2. Positive Accountability
Positivity isn’t about being a cheerleader about every situation. Employees can see through a false demeanor or sugar coating a bad situation. Positivity is an overall attitude and approach to managing. It’s about catching employee doing things right.
See the best in a situation and inspire your workers to do the same. This relates back to your personal touch in personal accountability. If you’re not portraying positivity, your employees can’t mimic it.
Watch the language you use, as well. Even something as simple as an email explaining an update to the company’s insurance plan is an opportunity for spreading positivity. For example, if your company’s plan has recently added a free yearly dental cleaning for its employees, don’t just make “Changes to your dental insurance plan” as your email subject line. This vague statement could send employees into a panic about what may now not be covered that once was. And this will be especially worrisome for someone facing a painful procedure like a root canal.
Instead, make the subject line positive instead. Replace the word “change” with “improve.” For example, “Improvements to your dental insurance plan.” It seems minute and perhaps trivial, but building up small messages of positivity such as these set a tone for your workforce. The word change tends to make people think negative at first when it truly means improvements.
3. Performance Accountability
This is more in line with most people's understanding of accountability — hauling someone up for their actions, discipline or performance reviews. You can’t skip this part, but you can’t reach it without the first having both personal and positive accountability.
Once you build a personal relationships and set a tone of positivity, your employees respect you and may want to hear your feedback about their performance. Wanting to please authority figures you admire and trust is human nature.
The real job of a boss is coaching. It’s not about being a pushover — you must be firm about unforgivable grievances. But you must also look for opportunities to build employees up and make them greater than yourself.
Once you put these practices in place, you’ll build a team of engaged, positive-minded employees who come to work looking for ways to make their employer happy. The bottom line of needing to work for income will always be there, but added to it will be purpose and true enjoyment of their work and colleagues.