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Hold Them Capable NOT Accountable

I’m just going to come out and say it.

Holding your team accountable doesn’t work.

I can almost guarantee you’ve suffered through the pain point of holding others accountable at some point in your journey as an entrepreneur, business owner, or people leader. Think about the last time someone tried to hold YOU accountable. What was your reaction? More than likely you pushed back, you resisted. It creates the opposite of what we're trying to do.

Let’s dial back for a moment and come at this from a base level. When we think of the word ‘Accountability,’ what immediately comes to mind? NEGATIVITY! Being held accountable comes with a negative connotation that instantly results in hesitation and stalled productivity – the exact opposite of what we’re trying to achieve.

Don’t get me wrong, the old adage of “for every action a consequence” is not only true but fair. Consequences are important, and they help to shape behaviour. But this leads us to my next point; consequences aren’t the responsibility of holding other people accountable, they are the result of choice.

Instead, I challenge you to hold people CAPABLE, not accountable. When we empower our team to recognize the output of their choices It changes the relationship; it changes the results.

As a leader, I recognize that I am unable to deliver MY best work when I am constantly chasing people, or worried about holding them accountable for doing theirs. It’s important to know the limitations that fall on you when you’re stuck spinning plates, concerned more about others output over getting your own work done.

Below are some quick tips on how you can stop holding people accountable and start holding them capable.

  1. Meet with your team to discuss the power of action, ensure all members understand that with every action they take, they are making a choice – choosing to do what needs to be done or choosing not to. Much in the same way that, let’s say, paying taxes is a choice – we recognize that NOT paying will result in consequence (orange may be the new black, but it’s still not my colour!) When people realize the power of choice, they are much more likely to succeed.

  2. Let them take ownership, remember that as a leader one of the greatest things you can do is instill the tools and knowledge your team needs to self-motivate and self-guide through the challenges. When we give people ownership we are telling them “I trust you” and that sentiment goes a long way.

  3. Start with you! The best leaders always lead by example. Start by holding yourself capable, not accountable. Demonstrate for your team how taking ownership and making informed choices helps you to navigate your work day in a much more positive and PRODUCTIVE manner – it will catch on, trust me!

Lastly, if you’re still feeling stuck on how to move away from holding your team accountable – reach out! At Key Element Solutions, we’re dedicated to supporting our clients in their efforts to move away from the traditionalized ways of thinking, planning, and acting that can affect or stall their business progression. Let us help you start holding your team capable, today! Email to learn more.

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