Business Growth & Strategy

Accountability’s Other Side

For my new book, Accountability: The Key to Driving a High-Performance Culture (McGraw-Hill), I interviewed senior executives at some of the world’s most admired companies, including Marriott, The Container Store, Ernst & Young, Herman Miller, Nucor, Sony and Southwest Airlines.

I also interviewed CEOs who are members of Vistage International.  What I found may surprise you.

Watch the 2-minute video about Greg’s new book, Accountability.

Heads, We Lose
In two months, I’ll be Down Under speaking to TEC (Vistage) groups in Australia and New Zealand.

To drive performance in your organization, consider accountability as you would a coin, like this Australian one dollar piece.head-coin

The leaders I interviewed believe accountability has two sides: a positive side and a negative side. You may view the idea of accountability as I did when I was leading teams, a company division and the office of an international before I started my own business. Back then for me, accountability conjured up all sorts of negative images: micromanagement; an emotional, mean-spirited conversation; punishment.

It can be all of those things, but it doesn’t have to be any of them. When we consider accountability from that perspective, we lose, our colleagues lose and our organization will lose. What’s more we miss the opportunity to achieve the performance we want.

Tails, We Win
The leaders I interviewed approach accountability from a different perspective.

Here’s one quick example.

Ron Farmer founded US Signs in 1980 and led his company through nine tough months the company’s first year as well as through three recessions before selling his company in 2011 for full value. Growing more than 1,000 percent in the first 5 years landed US Signs on the Inc. 500 list at #196. Farmer started a second company, US LED, in 2001, and he and his team achieved average annual growth rate of 73 percent over the first 10 years. In 2012, he was an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year finalist.

“People do their best work,” Farmer told me, “when they know they’re going to be given credit for their contribution. So there has to be a certain amount of autonomy in people’s work so they can contribute without reservation. There’s accountability at work in this type of approach, but I view accountability not from the side that says, ‘This is what happens if you don’t do something,’ but rather, ‘See what’s possible if you do your best.’ It’s the other side of the same coin.”

What would happen to your organization’s performance if you treated accountability as a support system for winners?

Category: Business Growth & Strategy

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About the Author: Greg Bustin

Greg Bustin is a 15-year Vistage Master Chair with two Chief Executive groups, a Key Executive group and an Emerging Leader group in Dallas. He is also a Vistage speaker and has delivered more than 500 keynotes and workshops on five conti…

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