I work with a lot of leaders. One of the things I find consistently is that when key people in the organization leave unexpectedly, this has less to do with the employee’s level of commitment than it does with the leader’s level of commitment—usually in one, two, or all three of the areas you just read.
It is only the commitment from the leader to his or her people that creates accountability in the leader. That’s what creates the desire to be accountable in the team: 100 percent commitment from the top. That’s what inspires people to thrive, grow to be their best, and, in the process, help the organization to grow to be its best. Commitment is what makes the greatest journeys possible.
If a company is more concerned with its immediate bottom line than it is with the customer’s best interests, that is a short-term decision, and a poor one. That company is maximizing a short-term profit in exchange for a long-term loss. When that company stops looking out for its customers, it might maximize its profits that month, that quarter, or maybe even that year—but there are going to be long-term problems down the line…and if the company ignores those problems for long enough, its survival will eventually be at stake!
While visiting and working in Florida, I had the opportunity to attend the St. Louis Cardinals’ home opener spring training baseball game. Spring training is a great time both for the players and the fans. Everything starts new in spring training. Fans have renewed hopes of their team winning the World Series. Young players have renewed aspirations of moving up in the organization and possibly even making the Major League team.
But a lot has to be accomplished before decisions are made on who will make the Major League team and who will continue to play in the Minor Leagues.
I run into a lot of leaders who mislead themselves—without realizing that’s what’s happening. Here’s how they do it. They say things like “My people aren’t creative—we need to get a creativity expert in here to talk to them.” Or: “My people aren’t great problem-solvers—they need to get better at problem-solving. Go find me a program that will help them improve their problem-solving.”
For a leader, there is no such thing as “kind of” telling the truth.
If you are a leader, you are either fulfilling your personal commitment to tell someone who is counting on you the truth or you aren’t fulfilling that commitment. If you aren’t, then accountability within the relationship and the organization you lead is impossible, because you’ve already failed to be accountable to your team coming out of the gate.
If you want to attract and hold on to the best people, redefine accountability in your organization.
I work with a lot of senior leaders of organizations. One of the major challenges these leaders frequently share with me is their difficulty in hiring and holding on to good people. They want talented people, and they don’t want those talented people going to the competition once they have been hired and trained! So they’ll ask me, “Sam, what’s the best way for me to win and hold on to the talented people that will keep our organization competitive?”