Leadership Accountability

Consider your key employees. You trust them. Rely on them. Give them more responsibilities. And then one day things aren’t the way they used to be. You notice that they’re leaving work a little early on most days or missing agreed-upon deadlines or getting into arguments with co-workers.

Something has changed. Although their performance has slipped and their attitude may have deteriorated, consider how you may be managing them. Have you kept pace with the way things have changed, or are you managing them the same way you did 10 years ago in a less complicated environment?

Someone’s slip in performance may be due to no longer knowing what you expect. Your expectations have changed, but you haven’t clearly communicated what is different.

In other situations, however, the person may be resisting doing the job as it has evolved. They may not have the right skill set or may not be motivated to change with the position.

A Microscopic Miss

Over lunch with a good friend, I learned that his team had missed an aggressive financial goal by .2%. That’s two tenths of one percent, to emphasize the point. This was especially disappointing because one key stakeholder neglected to complete his piece on time.

What do you do when this happens? Do you beat yourself up because your team is an eyelash away from the goal? Do you blame the stakeholder who wasn’t accountable? Do you make up another narrative to make excuses?

In some respects, it would be easier to miss the goal by a substantial amount, because it is easier to excuse away a big miss if there were volatile market conditions or a natural disaster.

Is Your Team Keeping Pace?

If you’re a leader in a rapidly growing environment, you may find yourself in a quandary about how your staff keeps pace with the business growth. No matter how well you hired until now, you’ll find that you have employees who don’t cut it now and that you need to contemplate new ways to build your staff.

This can be extremely challenging, especially if some of these employees were loyal to you during earlier stages when they did whatever it took to keep things going.

I’m not suggesting that you abandon these employees; rather, think about who you need to add to take it to the next level.

Perhaps you need to consider a middle level manager who can add some much needed supervision and guidance to an otherwise overworked senior manager. Or you may think about adding administrative support which didn’t exist in the past.

Deconstructing the Unknown

When organizations undergo change, one of the commonly expressed concerns is dealing with the unknown. Leaders who are directly involved with the change process will be well served if they take time to anticipate specific concerns and diffuse them before they take on a life of their own.

In order to illustrate this, I’ll use the example of the departure of a senior leader who is replaced by someone from outside the organization. Inevitably, there is buzz about the newcomer. What is she like? What changes will he make? Will it be business as usual or will things change dramatically? And the most important….

…How is this going to affect me personally?

The new leader needs to keep in mind all of the unspoken chatter that is implicit in this question. Will she take me seriously? How is he going to understand how I think? What if he doesn’t value my contributions? Will she take an interest in me? I thought I was going to get her job – how am I going to save face among my co-workers?