Accountability. The word conjures up a range of emotions in most people — from insecurity to downright fear. It’s not easy being held accountable.
But in our consulting practice, we firmly believe that accountability actually brings freedom.
How does that work?
Corporate leaders at all levels find themselves at times in situations that represent new territory for them. “I’ve never lived through a merger.” “I’ve never laid off staff before.” “My team isn’t aligned and I need to do something — but what?”
Whatever the situation, most of us will come to events and crises in our lives where fear threatens to intimidate us and hold us back.
In times of uncertainty, we may consider getting help from someone who has been there — someone who has run a big company, or has been through a merger or a layoff.
Without a doubt, the thought of change can stop us from acting. All the what-ifs start running through our minds and we tend to visualize the worst case scenario. The truth is, the worst case only happens if we do nothing along the way.
The Freedom of Accountability
So, back to accountability. When we take a step and place ourselves under accountability, even just a little, we give ourselves the freedom to think in new directions. We become emboldened to take risks and change our future. The CEO who is afraid to break into a new market because he or she has never been there and doesn’t know exactly all the steps to take can step out, make some good decisions, and make some poor decisions — but at least he or she has changed the company’s outcome, turned the unknown into the known. They would have never stepped out without overcoming fear.
So where does the CEO learn how to hold people, including him or herself, accountable? Whether it’s to a business coach or mentor, a board of directors, or a partner or spouse, when leaders work with what we call an accountability partner, they free themselves to do the things they might otherwise never dare to attempt. Accountability for results and new ideas brings that alternate future and freedom.
The truth is, the worst case only happens if we do nothing along the way.
In my consulting role with company executives, I often see the reluctance to bring on new ideas, new ways of doing things, the pursuit of a new strategic direction for the company. The fear of the unknown, the comfort of maintaining the known and the lack of accountability for executives keeps everyone frustrated and stuck.
So what is the answer? How do we achieve a new freedom by placing ourselves under accountability? When I tie my goals and the success of those goals to tangible outcomes and know that an accountability partner will be sure to hold me to those outcomes, I now open myself to thinking of new possibilities, new strategies and better alternatives that I might not have attempted before. With real accountable outcomes in front of me, what do I have to lose?
When the time comes to make a decision fraught with risk, I take those paths that promise to change an otherwise known outcome. I believe this is how Apple changed its destiny from an antiquated computer manufacturer to the innovation engine of today.
Where in your business can accountability drive freedom?
About the Author
Gasper Gulotta is a dynamic business executive. He is known for helping companies open new markets, accelerate growth and improve ROI by establishing a challenging vision in attractive markets, building a consensus and establishing enterprise-wide commitment to its success.
A West Point graduate, Gasper possesses the rigor and discipline to develop tomorrow’s leaders and open new markets to consistently deliver superior results. He is a leader who makes the tough decisions, stays the course under pressure and is ideally suited for enterprise leadership roles in companies facing the challenges of developing sustainable programs to dramatically improve financial and operational performance.