THOUGHTS ON LEADERSHIP: ACCOUNTABILITY IN THE NEW YEAR

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me in Hawaii, recharging, resetting and putting the finishing touches on my 2020 goals while keeping my calls and actual work to a minimum.

In fact, here’s a practice I employ from the book “18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done” by Peter Bregman: Set your alarm clock or phone to go off every hour during the day … that’s eight 1-minute check-ins. When the clock goes off, it’s your reminder to pause, reflect, recharge, recalibrate and refocus. And that’s what I’m doing in Hawaii.

Last night, I watched my San Francisco 49ers claim their first NFC West division title since 2012; they beat the Seattle Seahawks 26-21. And what a victory it was. Seattle had eight chances at the end zone from inside the red zone and ultimately came up just inches short when 49ers rookie linebacker Dre Greenlaw made an incredible stop at the 1-yard line to prevent the go-ahead touchdown.

After the game, Greenlaw reflected on what happened, explaining: “All practice coaches [tell] me to look at the quarterback’s eyes … and I saw the quarterback was looking away and saw where he was trying to go. Credit to my coaches and credit to my teammates in helping me make the play.” He later added, “I just made a tackle my coaches and teammates would be proud of.”

Like Greenlaw, I’m proud to work with a team of such game-changing individuals who hold me accountable to my personal mission: helping others achieve their goals faster than they would in my absence. Simply put, working with the best makes you step up your game. It also ensures you’re held accountable and fully engaged in the execution of your Wildly Important Goals.

A study from Modern Survey revealed only 13% of the U.S. workforce is fully engaged in the work they do. Could you imagine the fate of the 49ers if Greenlaw hadn’t been engaged or closely watching the eyes of the quarterback to avert the touchdown?

Although there are many reasons a team member isn’t engaged, it often goes back to a lack of accountability. Remember, when Greenlaw was questioned about his much-talked-about stop, he credited those around him for helping him succeed.

Because accountability is the backbone of execution, it’s vital for a leader to build, maintain and inspire a high-performing team as goals are set, met and surpassed. This means if your team is setting resolutions for the new year, accountability is the engine that will make those goals move.

Once the structure of team accountability is put into place, with team members assigned accountability partners and weekly check-in sessions to review the status of everyone’s commitments, goals will be accomplished faster and with ease. In an article for Harvard Business Review, bestselling author and social scientist Joseph Grenny outlines the relationship between accountability and the strength of a team. He writes:

  • In the weakest teams, there is no accountability.
  • In mediocre teams, bosses are the source of accountability.
  • In high-performance teams, peers manage the vast majority of performance problems with one another.

So, what’s the message? As Grenny explains, when teams perform at the highest level, every member of the team holds one another accountable. There is no one person in charge of “accountability.” The concept is shared among all, and as such, equally distributed as a mechanism for top performance. It’s perhaps the magic that allowed the 49ers to win last night, although it’s really not magic at all. There’s no secret alchemy involved in accountability. It’s a proven strategy and unbeatable tactic that will always allow you to win every time. And 2020 is a year for winning.

Wishing you a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year,

Gino

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