The Basic Four of Leadership: # 4, Accountability

When I make a mistake, I’m recognized 100 percent of the time; when I do something great, I’m not recognized 99 percent of the time.

 – employee in the hotel industry

A 200,000-person study by the Jackson Organization confirmed that managers who achieve enhanced business results are significantly more likely to be seen by their employees as strong in the Basic Four areas of leadership:

  • Goal Setting
  • Communication
  • Trust
  • Accountability

Authors Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton used that study as a foundation in their book The Carrot Principle, adding on the accelerator of frequent and effective recognition to illustrate that the relationship between recognition and improved business results is both highly predictable and proven to work.

As in all good things, you must start with the basics – and here’s # 4:

Holding People Accountable

The employee quoted at the top of the page brings the issue of accountability into sharp relief: there’s a fine line between mistakes and failures, and it takes a great leader to know the difference.

Many well-known organizations have developed awards for intelligent mistakes. They realize that in an atmosphere of speed and innovation, team members need to feel safe to adapt, innovate, and experiment. That means, of course, that some mistakes will be made – and that’s all right. In these cultures, part of holding people accountable is celebrating mistakes that were worth being made.

In a culture that has equilibrium between accountability and celebrating success, recognition is frequent and meaningful and reinforces the notion of accountability. Keep in mind that great leaders don’t just hold their people accountable in formal ways – in many cases, you might not even know you’re being held accountable.

It’s just that you don’t want to let your leader and the team down.

That is a home run in accountability.

Goal setting, communication, trust, and accountability. These are the Basic Four of effective leadership. Alone, each one can move you quite a way toward good results, but when a leader is even somewhat competent with the Basic Four and then adds the accelerator of Recognition and Honor to each, leadership effectiveness soars.

And that will be the topic of a future post!

Adapted from The Carrot Principle by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton

Part 5 of a series

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4


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