By definition, someone that leads is expected to “go in front; to show the way.” A key to leading by the right personal example—showing the way—is holding people accountable for behaviors and performances you’ve determined as essential for the organization’s success. Frankly, if you’re in a leadership position, holding others accountable isn’t an option—it’s your duty. Failing to consistently execute this duty results in ongoing damage to: your culture, team morale and momentum, your brand, the customer experience, your personal credibility, and more. Doing your job and holding people accountable however, brings forth numerous benefits that enhance your organization’s fitness.
Following is a compelling handful of benefits that should encourage you and your leaders to work harder to develop both the skill set and the mindset to effectively hold others accountable; in essence, making sure every person in your dealership is held responsible for both the behaviors and results you’ve outlined as non-negotiable.
Benefit #1: Holding people accountable protects and strengthens your culture.
When deficient behaviors or results cause your dealership’s culture to weaken, the foundation of your entire organization is at risk. By doing your job and establishing clear values and standards, a compelling mission that unites a team, and providing team members the training and tools they need to be successful while holding them accountable throughout the process, you become a productive chief architect and primary influencer of your culture.
The alternative is to fail in shaping your culture according to the right standards, and allowing outside forces—often influenced by societal trends like a rising sense of entitlement, a growing absence of absolutes, and a participation-trophy-non-performance-mindset—to shape your culture in its image. After all, you can’t not have a culture. The telling questions are whether you’ll take control and shape it according to productive values and standards, or leave it up for grabs and allow it to be shaped from the outside-in. Many weak-minded, untrained, politically correct people in leadership positions today are choosing the latter route and reaping a resulting banquet of mediocrity.
Benefit #2: Holding people accountable ensures they work towards their fullest potential.
Effective leaders are effective developers of human capital. Through coaching, training, mentoring, empowerment, resolute clarity, and accountability, their objective is to continue to stretch team members to their fullest potential. Frankly, that’s not going to happen if you let people just “get by,” because you lack the skills or mental toughness to hold them accountable for using the resources and opportunities you provide, and for executing what you’ve determined as essential for their growth.
Political correctness has seduced some leaders into believing that it’s somehow harsh or offensive to tell people the truth about how they are doing, or apply consequences for behavioral or performance failures. But what’s truly harsh is letting people fail on your watch because you won’t do your job. Overall, the objective of accountability isn’t to fire people; but rather, to prevent you from having to fire them because you don’t let things get that far. Accountability also ensures that top performers continue to grow rather than slide back into their comfort zones. We live in a pampered age where many people have been lied to and coddled long enough about the realities concerning their performance. If you care about people, you will: challenge them, equip them, empower them, and confront them when necessary.
The most effective leaders I know convey the following with both their words and actions:
- “I’m hard on you because I believe in you.”
- “I hold you accountable because I care.”
- “I stretch you so you never have to regret giving less than your best.”
These leaders understand that in their endeavor to help the people in their charge reach their fullest potential, they are never likely to hear these words—or words like them:
“Thanks for being easy on me. You changed my life.”
Benefit #3: Holding people accountable facilitates effective execution.
This one doesn’t require much elaboration: without effective execution, vision is irrelevant and strategy is worthless. At the end of the day, people do what they are held accountable for; you teach them how to treat you. If there aren’t consequences for poor behaviors or performances, you can expect to see more of them. The behavioral science principle rings true: if you want to change a behavior, you must change the consequence for that behavior.
Benefit #4: Holding people accountable ensures better team member experiences.
This one is obvious, and painful. When people don’t do their job, or don’t live the values, productive team members can become distracted, overwhelmed, and demoralized. They also tend to feel they’re working in a less special workplace since people who shouldn’t even be there in the first place are showing up and being paid every day—and making their lives miserable in the process.
Benefit #5: Holding people accountable ensures better customer experiences.
Since employees having a better experience will create better experiences for customers, the stakes are high that the prior point is a reality in your culture. The payoffs are numerous, but perhaps the biggest is that customers who enjoy better experiences are more loyal and find price less relevant, are more likely to return, and are potential referral machines.
There are many more benefits, but let’s conclude with this thought: to earn greater buy-in and leadership credibility, it’s essential to understand that holding yourself accountable to values and standards as a priority is where accountability must begin. Your number one duty where accountability is concerned is first expecting more from yourself than you do from others—being a living embodiment of consistently excellent performance and living core values. In my two-day workshop on How to Master the Art of Accountability, we spend a fair amount of time evaluating our own attitudes, behaviors, adherence of values, and execution of job duties to ensure our talk and walk are consistent. Letting ourselves slide while we preach accountability to others is a pathetic form of hypocrisy.
It’s also important to repeat, and recall that it is essential we as leaders provide the clarity, feedback, tools, and empowerment our people need to live out and execute the behavioral and performance objectives we have set forth for them. Thus, our first duties where accountability is concerned are to do our job well and walk our talk.
Author: Dave Anderson
Dave Anderson is President of LearnToLead which provides in-person and virtual training to many of the world’s best dealerships. Dave speaks to dealer groups over 125 times each year and has given seminars in 15 countries. He’s written the leadership column for Dealer Magazine for the past fifteen years. Dave’s 13th book, “It’s Not Rocket Science: 4 Simple Strategies for Mastering the Art of Execution” is now available worldwide. For daily leadership tips follow Dave on Twitter @DaveAnderson100.