One of the core elements that supports business in running effectively is the accountability people take.
The core element behind individual accountability is responsibility. Many people hear that like duty or obligation. I don’t. I hear responsibility as “the ability to respond” in a given circumstance or situation.
Jack Canfield, co-author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series of books as well as many other books and programs on self-esteem and personal effectiveness, refers to the formula:
E + R = O
E is the external event that occurs. R is your response to that event, and O is the outcome. Events occur in your business, and your life. You often don’t control what happens. What you always have control over is how you respond to what is occurring. It is these two components combined that generate the outcomes in your life.
Accountability versus Entitlement
In today’s world, you have so much more than previous generations ever enjoyed. Advancements in technology, in science, transportation, and in a whole host of areas have made your world a much richer place. Television and the internet have allowed you to see what is occurring in your neighborhood, town, country and the wide world. They’ve opened your eyes to what is possible.
It has also conditioned you to expect a quick fix. It seems that people encounter situations and difficulties, go through the trauma of their upsets and resolve everything that ails them in their lives, all in 22 minutes between commercials. There are some situations that take 45 minutes, which is the hour long shows on TV.
This news and entertainment conditioning, combined with todays richness, has evolved into an entitlement mentality among some people. Some expect to be granted opportunities without working for them. This entitlement mentality gets in the way of business effectiveness.
Dan Sullivan, creator of The Strategic Coach, a program I highly recommend, talks about 2 decisions that anyone can make to become an entrepreneur. They are:
- Rely on your own skills and abilities for your economic viability
- Don’t expect any opportunity unless and until you first provide value to others
Notice that he doesn’t say that you won’t gain any opportunities. He just says not to expect any. These are based in the notion of individual accountability, not entitlement.
Holding People Accountable
Many business owners fall into the misguided notion that you can hold people accountable. This is usually some erroneous attempt to control others, to get them to do what you want them to. The truth is that you cannot hold another person accountable. They are already accountable. There are consequences for everything you do in life. Everyone in the world is subject to the consequences of their actions.
In some circumstances, you can be shielded from the accountability of your actions. Others might cover for you, or handle your duties for you, but sooner or later even that will catch up with you. There is more truth than myth to the saying, “What goes around, comes around.”
Instead of trying to control other people by “holding them accountable” (another expression for dressing them down when they screw up), what if you held people AS accountable. You do this by honoring the fact that they already are accountable – they will have consequences from whatever they do – and then work in partnership with them to support them in gaining the outcomes they seek.
For example, if I have an employee who is chronically late, I merely point out the consequences of this habit, not only to the team, but also to the employment agreement we made (the natural consequences) and then look with that person to see if there are some different structures that might serve the situation better.
Risk for Reward
Entrepreneurship is about assuming a risk for a reward, by entering into an arrangement of a value exchange with one or more other people. This cannot occur unless you make sure you do what you say, and take accountability for your end of the exchange. Whether in business or in any aspect of life, accountability is core to generating results.
By standing accountable for the outcomes you seek, you will cause things to happen consistent with your intentions. That, my fellow business people, is what makes the world go round.