By Howard Stanten MPT,CPCC
Many leaders struggle with holding the members of their team accountable. Once the hard truth in step one is addressed, the next steps come much easier.
1) LOOK IN THE MIRROR to identify the one person whose lack of accountability is having the most negative impact. Make good eye contact. The person looking back at you needs a good dose of personal responsibility.
There is something for which you are responsible, able to respond to, that you are avoiding or ignoring. Have you found yourself blaming and complaining lately? How’s it working? That gnawing in your gut, knot in your throat, and flush in your face are all signaling that YOU can and must RESPOND!
So, listen to what your body is telling you and move on to step two.
2) MAKE A DISTINCTION between reactive behavior that is challenging your expectations and proactive behavior that is supporting your expectations. Reactive behavior might have you feeling like a babysitter taking care of kids from hell who repeatedly spit in your face. Proactive behavior should have you feeling like a teacher or coach eager to work with someone that has great potential. Take a moment to look for and digest the distinction. Gauge how you are feeling. Your response to each needs to be markedly different to be effective.
After making this distinction, it’s time to lead.
3) DO LEAD, DON’T BABYSIT. The team member who is repeatedly late needs to be put on a fast track behavior improvement plan and let go quickly if this doesn’t work. IT DOESN’T MATTER HOW VALUABLE THIS PERSON IS IN OTHER AREAS! Would you keep this same “valuable” person around if they repeatedly spit in your face? Think about it. There’s not much difference. That’s why you’re feeling the way you do by keeping them around.
The team member that is overly eager to implement a new workflow policy improving efficiency in her department while creating a bottleneck somewhere else deserves a different response. Help her to see what she didn’t. Praise her proactive alignment with the mission. Grow a leader. Don’t let her “mistake” cause you to squash the very qualities you want your people to develop.
After you’ve chosen leadership over babysitting, check your ego.
4) MAKE IT ABOUT THE MESSAGE NOT THE MESSENGER. Be about the vision and mission not your frustrated, angry, offended ego. It’s fine to say you’re frustrated, just don’t BE FRUSTRATED. Don’t let the accountability conversation get diluted by becoming about your attitude. Ground the conversation in why the accountability you are expecting is important to the organization. Those that care, will raise their accountability game. Those that don’t, won’t. Rebuild your team around those that care.
By Howard Stanten MPT, CPCC
I’m not a fan of hearing folks blame outcomes on how positive or negative a person’s thinking is.
There is no doubt that positivity plays a key role in achieving our big goals. Here’s the rub. It doesn’t get you anywhere without courageous action. That is, doing something outside of your comfort zone.
Yes, a positive mindset is important, and it does not on its own determine anything. The idea that simply repeating positive affirmations will somehow by itself produce opportunities and results provides false hope.
As Robert Fritz says in The Path of Least Resistance,
“Positive thinking is a willpower strategy designed to help people exert their will over themselves as a kind of self-manipulation…There is no need to control yourself…You have a natural inclination toward creating what you most truly want…. There are no inner forces you must overcome, only inner forces that might be aligned organically as part of the creative process. This is not programming yourself, but rather working with all of the forces in play-including the forces you may not especially like.”
Fritz is a critic of using positive thinking and affirmations as tools for change. Repeating “I have all the confidence I need to move forward” when the truth is “my fear is holding me back” is telling myself a lie. And, lies don’t help move us forward. In fact, a key component of Fritz’s model for creating the life you want is grounded in a sober assessment of life as it actually is; the good, the bad, and the ugly.
A positive mindset doesn’t involve telling ourselves lies about our current reality. It does involve choosing to be inspired by the life we want to create. This inspiration provides the foundation to plant one foot and just enough light to guide the other foot into taking the next step towards creating what we want.
The “Positive” in Positive Action means getting our head around the fact that we can as Fritz says, “Learn to become the creative force in your own life.” The “Action” means taking steps forward without having to know exactly how we’re going to get to where we want to be.
In fact, it’s not possible to accurately map the whole thing out ahead of time. As you act, you will bump into a world that will have its say.
The “world’s say” is feedback: YES, MORE OF THAT! Or NO, NOT THAT! Letting the feedback be our guide (not our excuse for giving up), we reconnect to our vision, plant one foot, and step with the other. In this way, we are engaging the power of Positive Action.
Positive Action means choosing to be in the process of continuously creating the life we want. And, it’s not about “willing” it that way by telling ourselves things that aren’t true. It’s about honestly acknowledging and accepting all of who and where we are.
And, from that place of truth, it’s about giving a damn enough to do something about the life we want to create.
By Howard Stanten MPT, CPCC
I have, for the most part, eliminated the “B” word from my vocabulary. Being in the business of helping people become extraordinary leaders of themselves and others, I tend to cringe when I hear folks using this word. It’s like adding a self-limiting asterisk to something important, meaningful, and worthwhile.
The “B” word is a weapon used by our inner critic. This critic likes to hide in the bushes. And, just when you’re getting good and ready to take some courageous leadership-affirming action, out it jumps in all its two-fisted distorted glory waving brightly colored neon signs painted with the “B” word…in capital letters.
Well, I for one, have had enough. And, you should too. Why? Because words matter. Words make up the stories we tell about ourselves. These stories guide our actions. If our stories are full of the “B” word, the inner critic wins. We stay safe and…. small. We certainly do not develop as a leader.
And, there is hope. Literally, hope is in the word “And.”
Unlike the “B” word, “And” is expansive, inclusive, and full of possibility. “And” helps us to tell ourselves the story of moving forward. For leaders, “And” offers inspiration while the “B” word offers limitation.
Consider this leadership example: “I very much want to delegate more, but I am afraid of losing control.” Vs. “I very much want to delegate more, and I am afraid of losing control.”
Both sentences begin with a clear vision for action. The first sentence has a defeatist, limiting tone. “Delegating more” isn’t likely to happen. The second sentence creates the space for “feeling the fear and doing it anyway.” A quality that most successful, inspirational leaders have.
I invite you to get intentional about this. Start substituting “And” when you notice your inner critic waving the “B” word sign. Notice how “AND” makes you feel. Listen for the “B” word being used by others. Imagine what it would sound like with an “And” instead. And, if you’re brave enough, ask them to do the exercise. Ask them how they feel.
As we fill our stories with more and more “Ands” and less and less “B” words, we start to tell ourselves a more courageous version of our story. AND, this helps us become the leaders we want to be.
Howard Stanten MPT,CPCC is an Executive Leadership and Professional