The business of leadership is all about being personally accountable in three different areas: for fulfillment of organizational goals, for staff accomplishments, and for our own self-success. These three aspects are intertwined, dependent upon one another, and thoroughly influenced by the measure of our personal accountability.
The leader who lives by the credo of personal accountability is considered trustworthy, reliable, and committed. Superiors look to this person for successful results; co-workers depend on this individual for valuable advice and guidance; and subordinates, who become loyal followers, hold this leader in high esteem. Great leaders are those who are able to lead in a way that generates respect, confidence, and the feeling that, no matter what, the right thing will be done. They get high marks in the trust quotient for their character, ethics, and credibility, all of which are manifested through behaviors that demonstrate their personal accountability.
- Character – In The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, author John Maxwell tells us, “Whenever you lead people, it’s as if they consent to take a trip with you. The way that trip turns out is predicted by character.” The amount of consideration, respect, and fairness we demonstrate are indicative of our internal values, which guide character. When something goes wrong, or a project does not turn out as originally intended, we should accept responsibility for the results and look inward to explore how we may have impacted the outcome. Rather than directing blame towards others or at external circumstances, the leader of character seeks to understand his or her personal contribution, and to learn and grow in response to challenges. There is less blame on others and more focus on moving forward to achieve the goals of the organization.
- Ethics and Credibility – The ethical leader consistently role models honesty and integrity in daily activities. He or she never deceives anyone by saying one thing and then doing another because it might be easier, expedient, or self serving. When mistakes are made, they’re admitted. People will tolerate honest mistakes, but if you violate their trust, you will find it very difficult to ever regain their confidence. That is one reason you need to treat trust as your most precious asset. The credible leader—one who inspires belief and trust -openly shares important information with staff; there are no secrets. Employees know exactly what is expected of them. But when we as leaders go the extra mile to establish a clear line between employee behavior and goal achievement, we earn even more credence.
- Personal Accountability and Communication – The one thread that runs through all aspects of personal accountability is communication. The leader who accepts responsibility for the fulfillment of organizational goals, for staff accomplishments and for self-success is one who should be personally accountable for acquiring strong communication skills. This starts with knowing what real communication is all about. Since it’s estimated that we spend 75 percent of our time at work engaged in some aspect of verbal interaction, this knowledge is extremely important for our success.
Research shows that when we’re speaking to someone, words impact a mere 7%, tone of voice is responsible for 38%, and body language contributes to 55%. What is body language? This most important aspect of communication is the nonverbal—conscious or subconscious—imparting of information by means of gestures, posture, facial expressions, and the like. Body language is a manifestation of our individual behavioral style. Behavior can be thought of as the “how” of our life, apparent in the way we act.
Knowing and understanding what our particular behavior style is will influence how we communicate and will help us be more successful at it. Achievers throughout history have one thing in common—they have self realization. They don’t underestimate what they can do, they don’t sell themselves short, and they comprehend their limitations. Through self-knowledge of their behavior style, they’re able to overcome their shortcomings and take full advantage of their strengths to improve their interaction with people.
Seek first to understand yourself, then to be understood. The knowledge gained, in turn, provides insight on how your intended meaning and communication comes across to others. You learn how to close the gap between intention and perception, then you can adapt and guide your personal behavioral style to connect successfully with others and convey your message effectively.
The bottom line: Be personally accountable for being the best communicator you can be!
Leaders with the most impact are those who can build and successfully manage great teams. Every day, we help our clients and colleagues achieve their highest levels of professional presence and personal effectiveness. That includes everyone on the ladder, from company presidents to project managers, to staff members. Contact us at 800-282-3374 to find out how we can help you impact your own productivity and the productivity of your entire organization.
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