Divakar Prakash

The author is a Strategy Consultant with experience of consulting CEO level executives and key stakeholders in Real Estate , Government, Not for Profit, FMCG and Chemical sectors. Educated at the School of Management ,University of St-Andrews consistently a top ranked institution in Europe at Master's level in business Strategy, Corporate Finance and General Management

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Accountability: New Mantra For Successful Leader

Successful leaders practice the virtue of accountability. The term might be ubiquitous but it is a vital input to better results and high performance

It is the mechanism of assuming the ownership for the performance of the team. Accountable leaders take up the responsibility of the actions and decisions which can often be frightening and risk prone. Leaders that really overcome hurdles and attain the ultimate goals, mission and vision of the company can be truly called accountable.

Successful leaders practice the virtue of accountability. The term might be ubiquitous but it is a vital input to better results and high performance. In order to understand accountability we need to first analyse the barriers in the process of holding people accountable. Too much of pride is not good at the workplace. Pride might hinder the rational judgment. The root cause of excessive pride is fear of misinterpretation of others actions. When we hold others accountable it shouldn't be seen as a punitive action rather a method to raise the bar of other's performance.

Allure of procrastination - Performance fulfilling commitments through proper execution of plans and having a robust metrics to measure progress can be extremely fruitful. It avoids procrastination. Clear delegation of responsibilities should be outlined with the end result, quality and productivity in mind.

Leaders should also get rid of negativity
 - There shouldn't be an excess of command and control type of system. It rather be flexible and supportive from the leader's side because the end result is a team work and it depends how each individual members are managed and their performance be optimized to attain the final goal of the organization. It is the duty of a leader to raise and leverage the potential of each of the members for organization to prosper and grow.

To deliver accountability lets analyze the types of organization. Push organizations are designed for a top to down control. These organizations are extremely efficiency focused and hence optimum utilization of resources is the priority. The control systems are centralized with clear procedures which restrict the participation and involvement of the decision making.

Pull organizations recognize the precarious nature of the demand. The control systems are highly decentralized. More independent initiatives are supported, with more people-centered, innovation-focused which encourages transparent decision-making. Changes happen in different directions when organization becomes organisms; the workforce becomes competitive and takes the shape of talent market place. Divisions acts like a creative nets. Hierarchical becomes community .Interactions tend to become extremely tacit interactions. Ideas are replaced by procedures.

The accountability can be more effective through clarity, connect and collaboration. It is the team really and if something doesn't work with the team the leader needs to introspect what's going wrong.

Clarity - It is extremely vital for the success of the team. It shows the path for future performance of the team. It is the duty of a leader to observe astutely and fill the gaps that might hinder the performance of the team leader needs to be clear on goals, expectations, priorities and balanced feedback loops. With the clarity in these four areas the teams performs at high rates and with these four points a leader and teams together be held accountable. It is extremely important to have clarity in the company's vision, mission. When these four points align with the company's culture you have a winning combination.

Connect - Another important point is deep heart level connection in the work place with overlaps with respect for one another. It is the duty of a leader to see that everyone at the workplace is seen and heard. There basic human needs can really energize the entire team. Such an environment can unite teams and makes each other comfortable and accountable. 

Collaboration - 
It's another important aspect that puts in place the required structures where people can feel extremely comfortable. It fosters dialogues and helps people to relate with one another. Today the work places are hyper competitive and people work cross culturally on multiple projects. Accountability is the buzz world under pressure situations where one has to deliver under time lines and these projects actually drive the activity. It's the duty of a leader to model the projects in such a way that team members adapt cross culturally and have the environment where they can learn, contribute and celebrate success.

In many ways the best leaders can differentiate themselves from the rest by being more gregarious, by actively participating in the discussions and being present with sound mind, even remembering to the small details, with very good temperament under crisis and tight situations. They are extremely smart and adapt to situations.

Good leaders focus on fixing the problems, and motivating the employees and hence bringing about change.

The starting point is how do you make a shift as an accountable leader. The first thing is to do a self-assessment. Are you honoring the commitment, your relationship with employees at work, the productivity levels and attainment of the final goals. Now having done the assessment if the change is needed. To make the commitments more visible the strategic plan needs to be discussed with the core team. Then there should be more regular meeting to check the progress on the commitments. Reviewing commitment as a team encourages accountability .By targeting accountability a leader can make highest leverage towards a profound change management.

If we look deep what are the strategies to be more accountable:
1) The starting point of being more accountable is honestly. A leader has to get rid of the personal pride and when mistakes are committed it needs to be accepted. They review their role devising reasonable solutions to resolve any conflict or issues in extremely authentic manner. Accountable leaders always have a backup plan in face of failure. They plan to fix problems and focus on the end results. They apologize for any wrong doings.

2) Accountable leaders always welcome inputs from others be it bosses, peers, partners, direct reports. They constantly seek to initiate pragmatic change and instigates improved ways of developing the talent pool, making wise decisions and handling complex situations.

3) Accountable leaders don't avoid responsibility. They seldom procrastinate nor over commit.

Before accepting new responsibilities they review all their schedules to ensure that they have the time to complete the work with high quality. Once committed the deliverables would be executed on time.

The end result of accountability is that it makes a business difference. Accountability builds trust in the eco system and promotes the sense of fairness that is essential to an engaged workforce. Accountability helps in striving; promise of getting there, a perpetual self refinement and ultimately winning .It is leader's overall commitment to excellence, keeping fired up and improving over a period of time. This is the mark of a true leader although tough but when honestly practiced can be truly a differentiator.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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