Develop A Mindset Of Accountability
January 29, 2020
The Revenue Budget for the year was $50 Mio. All the forecasts were pointing towards an achievement of $40 Mio of revenue only. The pressure on me was intensifying by the day. As the Head of the business , I was the accountable executive and I was expected to provide some explanation. It was not as if I had never missed forecasts or targets before, but this time the gap was substantial. I felt extremely threatened. I had to salvage myself somehow.
I Started looking for all plausible reasons to justify why the numbers were not happening.
- Markets are down.
- I had taken an aggressive budget,
- The front-line teams that someone else was managing were not doing a good job.
- Competition is running aggressive campaigns.
- My team is not motivated. Because of cost cuts, we gave them no pay hike last year and this has impacted team morale.
I was trying to blame external circumstances, situations to excuse myself and my inability to deliver an outcome. The core intention was to somehow deflect accountability away from myself so that I did not look incompetent. I was afraid, I was defensive. Afraid that I would be called out as a failure and someone else will be given the mantle and that I will become irrelevant, maybe even sacked on performance grounds.
This was a real situation I faced at work about 13 years back.
Let me now just reframe the same situation in a different context.
I am a self employed business man. I have a team of 30. I had a plan to achieve $50 Mio of Revenue for the business , this year. Unfortunately, the business is tracking to a Revenue delivery of only $40 Mio. The plan I had made for myself and my team was going horribly wrong. What do I do?
- I am thinking about figuring out what is really happening. What went wrong in my assumptions.
- What can I do to salvage the situation . What course correction can I do to improve the situation
- I reach out to my mentors, experts , people who have greater experience- I ask them to help me figure what I am doing wrong. They may tell me some things I am doing wrong. I’ll actually take that without blinking because, this is not about me. It’s about the business and if I am the problem, I need to fix it.
- I then go to work with a new plan to make it work. Ill keep changing the plan and do whatever is required till the business is back on track.
What is the difference between the first story and the second story?
In the first case,
- I was trying to be responsible without taking accountability. I knew the business I was managing was not in good shape. But I was in denial. It was not because of me. It was all the stuff out there!!
- My mindset was starting from a position of personal safety ahead of the well-being of the organisation and those around me.
- My desire to deflect blame and make myself feel safe was more important than the need to fix the problem.
In the Second situation- I am the owner of the business. I am interested in figuring out what went wrong and how I could fix the problem. I am willing to do whatever necessary to fix the issue. I am taking not just the responsibility but also the accountability to deliver the business plan.
The reality in both the scenarios is the same . A Business that is in a bad shape and not delivering to the plan.
The approach to deal with the situation is different based on the mindset I am bringing to the table.
When I have a mindset of Accountability , like in the second scenario-
- I will not be worried about the risk of failing or the consequences of failing. I am prepared for both.
- I am only looking for answers not excuses.
- I am looking for ways to improve and doing things that make the situation better.
- I am happy taking help without feeling defensive.
Today, my reality is shaped by having a mindset of Accountability -Which means “The Buck really stops with me”. There is no time to wallow in self pity, defensiveness, blame game. I just have to do whatever it is I can do to keep improving and moving forward, knowing fully well there will be situations when things will not go according to plan. I am prepared for that, with the confidence that I have the skills to manage the problem.