I was sweating and hoping … almost praying as the agenda to the meeting drew to a conclusion. Not only was I uncharacteristically silent during the meeting but I wanted it to end more than any other meeting that I could remember being in.
It is not that the meeting was boring (although unfortunately all too many of them are). It was because I was unprepared. More accurately, I hadn’t done what I said I would do.
You see, last month I said that I would do something before today’s meeting. But I had completely forgotten about it until this meeting started.
I felt bad.
But not bad enough to bring it up.
I had excuses.
Of course I did.
“I was soooo busy” or “Other agenda items are more important” or “The dog ate my homework.” I think you get the point. Sometimes people, myself included, can quickly volunteer to take care of something but then not follow through.
As the meeting drew to a conclusion and no one brought up my undelivered task, I had two very distinct thoughts and feelings. On the one hand, I was relieved. I had gotten away with not doing what I was supposed to do.
No one noticed. No one called me out.
No one questioned me.
Whew, that was a close one.
On the other hand … wait a minute! No one noticed?! Was it not important? Is my part on this team not important? Why am I bothering to sit through boring meetings if what I do doesn’t matter?
Maybe you have experienced this as well. What this example teaches me is that a crucial component to leadership is accountability. It could very well be the missing link to your success.
Accountability provides at least three essential dynamics to your team.
First of all, with accountability everyone on the team knows that what he or she provides is important to the success of the entire team.
Looking at my story, you will notice that I “got away” with not doing what I was supposed to. But this left me wondering whether I am actually needed; if what I work on matters. Without accountability, people feel as though they are not needed.
Second, accountability keeps every member of the team aligned with the trust needed to succeed. Alignment in trust means simply that everyone knows they can depend upon one another. As Patrick Lencioni teaches in his book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, trust is a major issue for every team, and accountability keeps trust alive.
A third essential dynamic provided by accountability is the ongoing development of personal character. I have been in accountability groups. I have been in relationships where I am “held accountable”. One outcome of accountability for me has always been that I develop the proper habit of actually doing what I say I will do.
And, if not … well, it is noticed.
People feeling needed, trust being built, and character being developed; how can we not become fans of accountability?