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Mattson Enterprise, Inc. | Islandia, NY

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One of the biggest challenges my clients who hold leadership roles face is accountability or lack thereof. Their ultimate goal is simple: they want each member of their team to do what they say they are going to do when they say they are going to do it—period.

Yet, what most leaders don’t realize is they can absolutely solve this problem. By modeling specific behavior and not accepting excuses from anyone, including from yourself or others on the leadership team, your firm can be one in which accountability is a standard, not a goal.

By adopting the following you will create a culture of accountability and be able to truly see the positive financial impact accountability has on both individual practices and the firm. In a survey, 91% of individuals said that accountability inside an enterprise or inside a firm is one of their top developmental issues.

When I coach clients in the area of accountability, specifically building the foundation of a culture of accountability, here are the four main points we typically work through.

Accountability is not a skill, it’s a mindset.

Your mindset is one of the key elements to success. Think about it. There are many on your team, whether producers or leaders, who possess extensive product knowledge, yet their sales performance is average at best.

First, let's make sure we're on the same page about identifying why problems occur. All sales problems happen for one of two reasons, (1) you said or did something you were not supposed to or (2) you did not say or do something you were supposed to. You have to have those rules as part of the process. Having a successful mindset means your belief and your attitude is in line with the above rules. Without acceptability, people make excuses for their outcomes or lack thereof. When people make excuses, they're potentially not attaching the outcomes to themselves and there's no ability to grow. Success isn't built on just talent. The foundation of success is built on having a proper attitude while keeping a successful mindset at the forefront of everything else.

A mindset of accountability is a way of thinking and processing information. Filtering through the toxic or noncommittal garbage spewed from those in excuse mode.

Accountability starts with the leadership team, then trickles down.

Accountability starts with leadership and trickles down. A team can only be as big of a shadow as its leader. If you are truly ready to achieve your goal of creating a culture of accountability within your firm, you must understand that accountability starts at the very top. In a survey, 72% of people said they would improve if they had more supervision. Unfortunately, that same group said that 87% of the time when they are having supervision it's because they're about to get fired or let go or they're in trouble. A staggering statistic is 50% of leaders and managers do not hold people accountable and more than 51% don't give constructive information and feedback when people are off course. That means half your leadership team is aware of what's going on and do nothing about it. These numbers are not acceptable. Developing a successful mindset within your organization is not as hard as you think. Most people stare at their underlings and say, “You need to be held accountable.”

Most leadership teams blame their producers for not meeting sales goals as the reason why the firm is underproducing in the areas of recruitment, retention, or new business development. The cold harsh truth is most leaders within a firm aren’t accountable people themselves. Take a look around the conference room table. How many of your peers are sitting next to you who are serial excuse-makers?

Here’s the thing, the leadership team dictates accountability, which equates to success. If you and your leadership team peers are doing what you say you are going to do—when you say you are going to do it—your producers will notice. They will start to talk about it with new recruits. It will be a breath of fresh air for your firm.
It’s only when the leadership team has embraced accountability as individuals that as a team it can then begin to implement a successful mindset of accountability with producers and staff members.
Having a successful mindset—responsibility, ownership, and accountability—means the leaders must breathe and think this way. They need to focus their attention on themselves, their own language, how they listen, what they listen for, how they ask questions, and the purpose behind those questions. Most, unfortunately, hear what they want or need to hear, not what's really being said. Remember, all we're doing is ensuring people are going to do their job. They're going to do what they say and say what they do. No more, no less.

You must not accept excuses or play the blame game, ever.

If accountability is the difference between success and failure, wouldn’t it make sense to eliminate excuses and to have everyone within your organization stop playing the blame game?

When people don't follow their plan and don't take ownership for outcomes, this is called an excuse. Excuses occur when people don't achieve or follow what their plan says, and/or the outcome. So, instead of taking ownership, they pass the responsibility over to someone or something else. Excuses are the biggest vampire inside of firms and entire enterprises. Remember the rule: all sales problems happen for one of two reasons. Make sure you have your people look at a mirror and that you do not accept excuses. Because if you do, you set precedence. The second you start to accept excuses you will consistently get more excuses. In a prior article, I've given you insights on how to clear up wishy-washy words. Go back and master that.

Yet, time and time again as leaders you willingly accept excuses.

Issue: Falling very short with recruiting goals.
Excuse: “It takes too much time to source prospective candidates.”

And, you model “blame game” behavior.

Scenario: GA or MP or sales managers have a fit publicly about the home office. He or she did not take ownership or responsibility and instead blamed the home office for what in his or her mind is a sales problem. Now the perception is the home office isn’t supportive and doesn’t know what they are doing.

Leadership Mirror: If the leadership looks at something as a negative, everyone below will do the same thing.

It’s time to shift your mindset and eliminate both excuses and the blame game once and for all.

Without consistency, accountability is mute.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just tell your sales managers to consistently hold people accountable?

It just doesn’t work that way. You can’t delegate accountability—you and your leadership team must do the work.

You have to incorporate an accountable mindset into all of your conversations and intentionally include it in all team meetings, key indicator reviews, internal recruitment meetings, and staff meetings.

It is your job to check in and offer support, encouragement, praise, and shed light on the activities that require accountability. It is also your job and that of the leadership team to set clear expectations, measurements, and consequences.

Your goal is to have everyone within your organization to clearly know what was expected of them, how the activity would be measured, and what consequences would occur if they fell short.

That may feel uncomfortable, but I’m going to ask you to embrace it. You don’t have to like it, just embrace it. Holding yourself and others consistently accountable will have a significant impact on both performance and results.

Remember to do a little bit all of the time, not a lot some of the time.

I’d like to hear how creating a culture of accountability is working for you. Please reach out to me via LinkedIn and let me know how it’s going.


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