Somewhere along the line the idea of being held accountable began to be viewed as punitive. Paying the price.
Certainly this is part of the equation; but accountability is a much greater concept than merely calling one (or a group) to account for decisions and deeds.
Today’s most effective leaders know this, and successfully incorporate accountability to check progress against guides and benchmarks.
Effective law firm leaders are no exception.
Not An Outside-In Proposition
Extraordinary leaders are, before contemplating any other measure, accountable to themselves.
It is unfortunately common for would-be leaders — those who hold-down positions of authority — to shy away from accepting responsibility for less-than-winning results. Many are skilled at deflecting or redirecting blame to others or even to circumstances. This approach can work in the short run; but the eventual cost comes in the form of lost credibility and trust. When the tab in these columns reaches a tipping point, any ability to lead is gone — position on the org chart or title notwithstanding.
I am not a Buffalo Bills or Rex Ryan fan but his conduct following a recent loss to the New England Patriots is reflective of a leader owning his team’s performance. In a post game interview, Ryan said “This loss is squarely on one man’s shoulders . . . It’s on my shoulders.”
This brand of accountability builds confidence, and inspires a sense that we’re in this together.
We’ve all witnessed the would-be leader. Accomplished in the art of deflecting responsibility when the news is bad and taking full credit when times are good. This individual’s calls for solidarity and partnership will eventually ring hollow. Few will follow.
Accountability For The Organization
The accountable executive has a clear vision of the steps necessary to ensure that the organization remains true to its purpose, mission, values and goals. When / if these components have not been articulated, the accountable leader has both the institutional equity and the tools necessary to instigate the necessary dialogue.
Accountability For Firm Members
The effective leader builds and hones an entire organization that is accountable. Expectations for performance, culture and professional growth for every member of the organization are clear. With those expectations established and communicated, the accountable leader (or a team of accountable leaders) routinely monitors actual performance to those expectations, taking appropriate actions in response.
Inside the accountable firm, when expectations have been met or exceeded the performance is rewarded in a visible manner. If expectations are not met corrective action is taken in a humane and respectful manner.
Having a culture in which there is a recognized expectation that is routinely measured against is more important than what those expectations actually are. An organization whose leader ensures that goals are regularly set and measured against is on its way to improvement.
Accountable firms are the byproduct of teams and individual leaders who first hold themselves accountable.
Does your law firm and its leadership project a culture of accountability?