Steven's Blog

leader and decision

Benevolent Dictatorship

Understanding the rationale for change alone when accountability is lacking is never enough. As leader, you will find yourself having to do the work of your staff in their stead.

By accountability, I mean a leader ensures there are rewards for the right behaviors and good results, and penalties if there are not.

Accountability is never a staff issue. It is always one of leadership. A CEO I know is changing his company’s business model from selling products the company manufactures through distributors to selling directly to customers. It is a good idea that makes sense, and is highly likely to succeed. The new model is not just one of disintermediation. The company will also offer high-value services along with the products, flexible and rapid customization capability, and unparalleled, proprietary, competitive technology.

Despite the CEO’s efforts to reason, persuade, and convince his leadership team of the merits of the new strategy, they remain skeptical. They listen. They critique. They catastrophize. They express agreement in principle begrudgingly, but then drag their feet in action citing all sorts of excuses as to why they cannot change the way they do business.

The CEO tries to reason with his leadership team members again. The cycle of tepid agreement, inaction, and excuses repeats. No progress is made. Yet there are no consequences.

The decisions that your staff might make if they were CEO are not necessarily the same ones you make now, and that is just fine. There is nothing wrong with considering the perspectives of your staff, but you decide the direction of the business. It is reasonable to expect your staff to support your decisions, even when they might disagree. When they are CEO, they can decide.

Accountability is no ersatz for support. You should help with understanding the rationale for any change. You should provide education and other support when needed. You should provide additional resources, whether money, time, additional staff, equipment, or something else as appropriate. You should clarify ambiguity in authority and responsibility when these are ambiguous. You should resolve internal processes in conflict.

Yet even the best support is rarely enough to effect change in behavior. Only you can hold your staff to account. Without accountability, all bets are off.

Only you can hold your staff to account. Without accountability, all bets are off. Click To Tweet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.