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By Dr. Jim Harris Posted 1 year, 11 months, 1 week, 18 hours, 14 minutes ago.
A few years ago when I asked an executive with a global Fortune 500 firm, “What’s your greatest leadership challenge that keeps your firm from reaching the next level?”, my client and friend replied, “Accountability - how to hold others accountable across divisions, locations, and positions even when I’m not their boss.” Over the years, I’ve advised leadership teams on to launch a culture of greater accountability by beginning, ending, or focusing meetings and even casual conversations around one powerful question: “What two things are you going to accomplish this week?”
The impact of this non-threatening, results-focused question is amazing.
This question helps people focus in three significant ways. First, it focuses the individual contributor on what they are to get done (results) - not just what they are doing (activities). It reinforces to her/him that productivity is paramount, not how busy or how hard working they claim to be. Second, it helps the leader focus on how best to align available resources to help accomplish the goals. Additionally, it helps bust through potential silos to focus everyone on how best to collectively reach the goals with no excuses.
It is still true - peer pressure is more powerful than position pressure! Any real professional desires to “look good” in front of their bosses and colleagues. They need to been seen as a vital contributor to the overall success of the organization. This question quickly places the employee in control of their output with a proper amount of peer pressure. It’s pointed enough to be direct without being painful (unless they don’t have an answer).
Line of Sight + Progress
Today’s top talent, realizing low probabilities for significant pay increases or bonuses, are looking for two keys to inspire their continued commitment to excellence. First, they demand what I call “Line of Sight” that their work has direct and positive impact on the overall company goals. Second, they demand that the company is making real progress toward those goals. Without line of sight or progress, they will likely leave. Through initiating a systematic focus on what the entire team is to accomplish in real time, top talent is more likely to stay and remain highly productive.
Whether you are a boss or a colleague, by asking, “What are you going to accomplish this week?” is a great way to drive a culture of accountability.
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