Posts Tagged ‘attitude’

The Foundation of Accountability

Friday, January 18th, 2019

I’ve written and spoken extensively about accountability in the twenty years since we started our company, Learn To Lead: how to do it, why it’s important, the consequences for not doing so, and more. In my recent How to Master the Art of Accountability seminar attendees found it helpful when I identified and outlined the two non-negotiable pillars of accountability, and how to develop both.

Essentially, holding people accountable requires both the right skill set and the right mindset. Knowing how to hold people accountable, but not doing it reflects the wrong mindset. Wanting to hold people accountable, but not knowing how to do it indicates a deficient skill set. In this piece I’ll go over the fine points of each of the two non-negotiable pillars for holding people accountable.

Three Quick Openers on the Importance of Accountability

  1. Accountability protects the culture, morale, momentum, the brand, the employee experience, the customer experience and the credibility of leadership.
  2. While the cost of holding someone accountable may seem high or uncomfortable, the cost for not holding someone accountable is staggering and creates more cultural discomfort. The cost is also enduring, rather than a one-time penalty. In essence, the consequences for failing to hold others accountable create a form misery on the installment plan.
  3. Accountability isn’t an option for someone in a leadership position; it’s a duty. If you can’t do it or won’t do it, you’re unfit for leadership. It’s THAT big of a deal.

The First Pillar of Accountability

  • Holding people accountable requires you have the right skill set.

This includes setting clear expectations for outcomes, essential daily activities and core values. Without clarity there can be no accountability because the question becomes, “Accountable for what?” It also takes skill to effectively give feedback on performance, establish and enforce appropriate consequences, and know what to say when you confront a poor performer. These are not tools that come to you in a dream one night after you’re promoted from advisor to service manager, or from salesperson to sales manager. They must be taught, learned, and applied to perform one’s duty as an effective leader. Because of this need for accountability “how to’s”, the accountability categories of our virtual training library are always the most used by managers from all departments in an organization.

I should emphasize that part of the skill set for holding others accountable mandates that you develop a skillful style as well: it should be conversational more than confrontational. Holding people accountable isn’t a license to be a jerk, to become profane, to shout, or get personal. In fact, those tactics make you look like a leadership amateur.  Your approach should be direct, respectful, firm, and attack the performance rather than the performer.

The Second Pillar of Accountability

  • Holding people accountable requires the right mindset.

Mindset is defined as “the established attitudes held by someone.” If you don’t have the right attitude concerning holding people accountable you’re unlikely to do it with urgency or consistency. The right accountability mindset is established when you realize and believe that holding someone accountable isn’t something you do to them, but for them. Frankly, if you believe you’re doing something “to” someone you’ll be reluctant to do it, and will likely apologize for doing your job – making you the “bad guy” and the non-performer “the victim.” However, when you believe you’re holding someone accountable to help them, to correct their course, to facilitate their growth, and to make them more successful, you’ll execute this vital duty without hesitation or apology.

 

In an age dedicated to political correctness and committed to not doing something that would offend someone else, holding people accountable has increasingly become seen as harsh or unfair. But is it really harsh to let someone know what is expected, how to improve, where they stand, where they need to be and by when, or what the consequence is for failing to do their job will be? If you think about it, it doesn’t really get any fairer than that. In reality, what’s truly harsh is letting people live in a gray area, allowing them to fail, fall further off track, and permit things to get so bad for so long that you have no choice but to remove them; and, they never see it coming or have a chance to correct their course because you failed to tell them. While it’s true that holding an accountability conversation can make both you and the person uncomfortable, that very discomfort is what’s necessary for you both to grow and get better at what you do. What’s more uncomfortable is failing to do your job and having non-producers, or toxic achievers remain on your team, which is unfair to the rest of the team and jeopardizes your own job.

 

The bottom line is that the best time to start holding people accountable would have been several years ago. The next best time is now. Where holding people accountable is concerned, if you know what to do, why it’s important, and what’s at stake if you don’t do it, and yet still fail to do it, YOU are the one that should be held more accountable for subordinating what’s best for the person and team to your own comfort level. When you think about it, holding others accountable is a cornerstone of any leader’s job description, so expecting you to do you job and hold others accountable seems like a reasonable expectation. Developing the right skill set and mindset—the two non-negotiable pillars of accountability—offers you a road map to get the job done.

If Nothing Changes, Nothing Changes

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018

In a world increasingly picking up speed, passive leaders have never been more vulnerable. Recent history has demonstrated in business it’s no longer so much a matter of the big eating the small, but the swift eating the slow.  Obviously, this dynamic puts the careers of those content to wait for things to change on a leadership endangered species list. You know what I mean—those content to wait for:
•    A better product: “Once the ‘X’ or ‘Y’ model gets here we’ll be rocking.”

•    A better month: “Don’t worry, our busy months are still ahead of us this year.”

•    A better time of the month: “When the end of the month gets here we’ll make up for our slow start.”

•    A better day of the week: “Things are slow, but it’s only Tuesday. Don’t panic; Saturday will be here before you know it.”

•    A better economy: “The news says things should get better economically in the next quarter.”

•    A better advertising campaign: “When that mailer drops we’re going to kill it!”

•    Better incentives: “I hear they’re doubling the incentives on the stair-step program next month.”

•    A competitor to stop doing something: “They can’t keep giving cars away forever.”

•    A manufacturer to start doing something: “Rumor has it they’re going to close two of the smaller points in this region, which means more for the rest of us.”

•    A workforce to step up: “The new spiff program we’ve got planned for the weekend will shift these guys into overdrive.”

•    Another department to straighten out: “Once they get the right people and improve their processes we’ll be able to sell more.”

•    The new facility to be ready: “We’re only three months away from moving into the new facility, and there will be no stopping us then.”

•    Things to get easier over all: “The worst is behind us. We should have smoother sailing the second half.”

Here are a few realities concerning change that all dealership leadership should understand, and the sooner the better. They should simultaneously present a jolt of reality, as well as an encouraging boost for your morale. The reality jolt is that if you’re waiting for things to change, you’re not only too slow, you’re as good as done. Eventually the passivity and indecision you’ve sown will manifest in decline. The encouraging boost is that YOU can decide to do better, to initiate the change, to act on what is within you and around you, rather than react to what is happening to you. That being said, here are the four realities of change to consider:
1.    Nothing much changes for you until something changes within you. In my book, “Unstoppable” I clearly lay out the case for, and steps to, building your mindset into something far more productive than it is. There are attitude adjustments you can make, excuses you can give up, people or things you can stop blaming, and corners you stop cutting that will lift your personal performance to new levels, and inspire others to do likewise. You can marginalize the adverse conditions mentioned before by making better decisions within yourself in the areas I’ve outlined in this point.

2.    Nothing much changes for you until something changes about you. It’s safe to say that the daily routine or habits you’ve developed that have gotten you to “here,” won’t be what it takes to get you to “there.” If they were adequate for the task, you’d probably already be “there.” John Maxwell said it well, “The secret to success lies in your daily routine.” And the sad fact is that many leaders have daily routines that are poorly planned, absent of structure, and are downright seat-of-the-pants-, surrender-to-every-emergency-, work-long-and-hard-but-not-smart pathetic! To reach the next performance level there are aspects of your daily  routine you must decide to stop doing that you’re currently doing; aspects to begin doing that you’re failing to do; things to do more of, do less of, and do all consistently and with excellence. What they are will vary from leader to leader, and according to his or her team makeup, personal strengths, and responsibilities.  Rest assured of this concerning the connection between your daily routine and the results you’re getting: if nothing changes, then nothing changes.

3.    You’ve got to stop waiting for the things around you to change, and start changing the things around you, starting with what’s within and about you. Once you embrace this mindset shift and address the first two points, you will start to play to win again; and, if you’re already winning, you’ll run up the score. You will move away from the demoralizing and draining tendencies of reacting and holding ground, towards getting the upper hand on your attitude, focus, behaviors, schedule, and your time—attacking the day and shaping it to your liking, rather than being passively shaped by what’s going on around you.

4.    Once you change, adverse things are less likely to happen to you, and you’re more likely to happen to things. My seven-time world champion karate instructor taught me that when facing an opponent, it’s not wise to spend immense time trying to figure them out and responding to what they throw at you. He said instead to develop a mindset to hit him fast, hard, first, last, and to keep attacking so he was reacting to me—to make him figure me out, and for me to be the competition rather than worry about the competition. I find the same focused, energetic attack-mindset works wonders in business as well. When you decide to be proactive, prepared, in your zone, and locked in on what’s truly essential each day you’ll never again have to start a day in neutral. You won’t have time for blame, excuses, or worthless activities and conversations. You’ll kindle within yourself a killer instinct and unstoppable approach that you would never have while waiting, wondering, reacting, blaming, complaining, or wishing it were easier or that things would start going your way. The late, great Jim Rohn said it well, “Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better.” To that I will add that getting better all starts with decisions and changes within your control, not on waiting for conditions outside your control to change for you.

The Cost of Choosing to be Offended

Tuesday, March 13th, 2018

This article is about staying more focused on what matters most so you can get more of the right things done daily and improve results. But first I need to set the stage by presenting what is often the biggest obstacle to that goal: getting sidetracked throughout the day by what—in the full scope of reaching your potential as a human being—is trivial and in some cases, doesn’t matter at all in that regard. In other words, choosing to be offended by someone or something and stepping out of your personal high-performance zone in the process. If you have listened to my Game Changer Life podcast episodes, or have read my new book, Unstoppable, you are fully aware of this danger and how to overcome it.
Without question, one of the chief culprits that inhibits maximum productivity for multitudes is a growing and uncanny knack for choosing to be offended by what is minor—often dozens of times throughout the day—and losing focus on what matters most in the process. The good news is that no one can offend you without your consent; you have to take the bait and step out of your zone, and thus diminish your effort, energy, enthusiasm, passion, attitude, focus, and productivity as a result.
In today’s politically-correct charged, hyper-sensitive culture of crybabies, there’s seemingly no shortage of opportunities from which the masses have chosen to be offended by on a daily basis. It’s not my place to tell you what you should or shouldn’t be offended by, but to bring to your attention to a wide range of culprits today so you can evaluate which offenses you have invited into your life, and determine if they are worth the loss in effort, energy, enthusiasm, passion, attitude, focus  and results they incur.
Here’s a sampling of common offenders: public prayer; the pledge of allegiance; religious symbols on gravesites; the headlines; the book title; a comic strip; FOX News; MSNBC; an announcer’s commentary; a speaker’s voice; an Instagram post; her hairdo; that tie; a pastor’s sermon; the nut job in traffic; another’s belief system; this kind of music; that politician; her singing voice; the flight attendant’s attitude; their protest; the waiter’s lack of urgency; his glance; the fact she ignored me; the amount of time she spent on my issue; the way he answered my question; the dessert they brought to the dinner party; the punishment I got; the punishment he didn’t get; having only two restroom choices (Men and Women); right wingers; left wingers; that team’s mascot; I only got three “like’s” on the photo I posted; those late-night TV jokes; he said “midget;” she said “handicapped;” what the president said; her constant sniffling; he blew his nose too loud; the gift she gave me; he never gave me a gift; what they provided for lunch; they didn’t even give us lunch; the time I spent on hold; his sock color; her dress; those 150 year-old statues of old dead guys; your pricing; that advertisement; her accent; his flashy watch; that beat up car; their failure to take a stand; a certain point of view; his loud mouth; her silence; his firm handshake; his flimsy handshake; he didn’t even shake hands with me; referring to the former Bruce Jenner by the wrong pronoun; and I’m sure that for some readers now scurrying off to their safe space to speed-dial momma and their therapist and report they have been offended—this article in general up to this point.
Am I saying you should be a doormat and just put up with anything without addressing it or mentioning it in some way? Of course not. But I am suggesting you become far more concerned with what you invite into your life and evaluate the following to determine the negative daily impact it has on your effort,   energy, enthusiasm, passion, attitude, focus, and overall productivity:
1.    Just how easy are you to offend, and how many times does that break your focus and cause you to spend time out of your zone during the day saying and doing less than what’s optimally productive?
•    Examples: getting worked up over what another department, coworker or customer said or did to you; fretting because you didn’t get the credit, or because someone else got more than you believe they deserve; and the like.

2.    How often do you share what offends you with others, and what impact does that have on their attitude, focus, and productivity?
•    By spreading the misery you’ve invited into your life with others, you also take them out of their zone, and can diminish their efforts, energy, enthusiasm, passion, attitude, focus and productivity.

3.    How much longer are you willing to invite into your life what really doesn’t matter when considering the big picture of fulfilling your potential as a human being?
•    Maturity is about gaining discernment, knowing which battles are worth fighting, and understanding that to maximize your results daily you don’t have time to set everyone straight, enter every debate, and be more consumed with being “right,” than remaining effective.

4.    How much of your limited time and energy are you willing to invest in things you cannot control, and render yourself a powerless victim as you complain about it?
•    Blaming, making excuses and investing your energy into what you can’t control all combine to create an anti-focus that can turn you into a pathetic, powerless, whiney victim unfit to lead a lemonade stand, much less a more substantial enterprise.

5.    When was the last time choosing to be offended by something helped you stay focused, motivated, and achieve your goals?
•    If it’s not moving you toward becoming a better person, making a great contribution to your team or family, or elevating results in some way, how much time do you want to waste on it?

6.    Would you recommend whining and complaining to your team members or kids as viable strategies for reaching their goals?
•    If this is what they see you do, they’re learning from your example. Everyone leads by example, that’s not the question. The questions are: what example are you leading by, and how does that impact those following you?

7.    Is what you’re offended by worth your loss of peace, focus, attitude, time, energy, enthusiasm, passion, and productivity? If it is, do more of it. If it’s not, grow up, give it up, and go up.
•    Samuel Johnson said, “The art of being wise is knowing what to overlook.” The stakes are too high for you to choose to be easily offended. Effort, energy, enthusiasm, passion, attitude and focus misspent and lost is gone forever.

The question many leaders must look into the mirror to face and fix so they can grow up and go up is not how offended they are by what has happened, but this:

How did they get so mentally soft and emotionally weak in the first place? That is what should offend you.