The following is a parable...
There was once a CEO who demanded accountability from his people. For years, he was complaining that his people did not respect their goals and objectives. Well, enough was enough! During one townhall session, he made an impassioned plea for people to not just talk objectives, but to deliver on them. After all, that was what the company budget was designed from. He said that this time around, he will focus on "accountability" and if anyone didn't meet their objectives, they might find themselves being managed out the company. To show how serious he was, he promised to step down as CEO if the company didn't meet its objectives! At the end of the year, the company's performance improved but it did not meet its objectives. However, the sly CEO conveniently "forgot" what he said, and instead, tried to misdirect all his staff by bringing the whole company to an overseas "incentive" trip. Yet, that was not the worst of it...
(1) To make sure there was performance, he rode the backs of his key managers, many a times forcing them to commit to certain numbers or performance in front of strangers;
(2) He micromanages all the staff, disrespecting lines of authority, and making it extremely difficult for the managers whose back his was riding to do actual work;
(3) He then publicly shames them, saying that they are a failure, in front of people who both don't need to know these, and don't want to be involved.
But for all the terrible leadership missteps, however, this CEO went one step further. He keeps his "pet staff" close by him. These staff simply shower praise on him, practise selective hearing so that they drown out all talk of negativity targetted at them, and they tell him weird personal stories designed to pull on his heartstrings. And since everyone knows how the CEO disrespects lines of authority, even these "pet staff" know that their immediate boss cannot do anything about it. The CEO will conjure excuse after excuse to explain why these pet staff should not be fired, all the while clamouring for performance from people who were actually working.
Soon, one by one, the good staff leave, leaving behind those that cannot work. The company's performance drops further, but this time, the CEO has no one to blame, since all "blameworthy" people have gone; especially after the HR director himself quit. With no one left to pull the company along, it very soon hit an iceberg, springs a huge leak, and the whole ship sinks quickly; with all the pet staff gathered around him singing Auld Lang Syne.
Well, this is just a story; I don't think there is ever a company out there quite like this. No one is really THAT bad a leader! But I am sure you see a little of yourself, of your boss, or of your subordinate in this story, don't you? While there are a few lessons to be learnt from this, I would like to focus on one key leadership lesson here - be consistent.
If you are consistent, you will treat all staff equally, and there will be no such thing as pet staff or such;
If you are consistent, you will apply the same standards on yourself as you do the rest of the staff;
If you are consistent, you will respect policies and hierarchies designed to bring the company forward TOGETHER;
If you are consistent, you will apply the appropriate performance management processes that have been set up to ensure accountability;
If you are consistent, you will not try to engineer people's views about you, spending needless money on an overseas "incentive" trip simply to save your own skin.
Consistency is a key driver for accountability. If you want your people to deliver, you need to be consistent. Otherwise, your cronies will be singing Auld Lang Syne with you on the deck of your sinking ship.
Other Cool Stuff
Excuse me, are you a leader?
Accountability in a changing environment