Thursday, July 14, 2005
Don't Fall Prey to Mediocrity!

So what is accountability, anyway? It's a buzzword you hear all the time in business. People tend to say things like, "I'm holding you accountable for getting that report done." What they really mean is, "Complete this to-do list and let me know you did it." But according to Morrie Shechtman, this all-too-common approach--handing out assignments, standing over employees like a school marm, and giving metaphorical pats on the head--is really the opposite of accountability. True accountability is not about tasks and to-do lists; it's about establishing productive relationships . . . and it's the secret to success in the 21st century.

It's about confrontation and conflict, not agreement and harmony. Make no mistake: holding people accountable is not easy. It means taking risks. It means instigating uncomfortable conversations. It means expecting--and accepting--the occasional emotional outburst. That's okay. Growth is usually painful. "If you have a company full of conflict avoiders, you're in trouble," asserts Shechtman. "The foundation of an accountable culture is honest, real-time feedback.

You have to be willing to tell people how you experience them, and you have to be able to hear from them how they experience you. It's the only route to growth relationships."
"Start taking risks right now," Shechtman urges. "Give people honest, critical feedback about how they impact the relationships they're in. Tell them what the new accountability means and why it's so critical to their future. The blunt truth is that if you don't create an accountable culture, your company may not be around in ten, or five, or even two years. None of us can be transaction artists anymore. You have to find the courage to make the change. And you have to make it right now. Then you will not have to bend to mediocrity."

Morrie Shechtman is the author of Fifth Wave Leadership: The Internal Frontier (Facts on Demand Press, ISBN: 1-889150-38-X, $19.95) is available at bookstores nationwide, major online booksellers, or directly from the publisher by calling (800) 929-3811.


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