Holding People Accountable vs. Supplying Accountability - The Key to Scaling UP

"Supply accountability simply means helping our direct reports hold themselves accountable for their impact rather than being held accountable."

By Senthiyl S S G, Director (Consulting), Arbinger Singapore/Malaysia | March 16, 2015

As leaders it is worth considering reducing time spent supervising and holding our direct reports accountable for their work and results.

Think about it, the more time we spend supervising and holding our direct reports accountable:

    • we are reducing ownership and accountability in our direct reports for their very responsibilities and
    • this also places an enormous burden on leaders and creates a huge bottleneck in the system with severe underutilization of talent available.

This is a problem leaders and teams cannot afford to be grappling with in today’s highly competitive business environment:

    • We end up spending precious time overseeing the jobs of subordinates.

The value loss to the team and organization is too high. It leads to the inability of leaders to value add in their respective roles.

Absorbed in overseeing direct reports accomplish their expected results, constant firefighting becomes the norm. There is little room for anything else!

There is a better way to lead and support our direct reports in delivering results.

Arbinger suggests that instead of holding our direct reports accountable that we supply accountability to them.

Supply accountability? What is this?

Supply accountability simply means helping our direct reports hold themselves accountable for their impact rather than being held accountable.

Supplying accountability and strengthening direct reports to hold themselves accountable for their impact will transform the dynamics of the team and offer unique competitive advantage to teams.

In many ways this is the little understood secret to teamwork, trust, collaboration and optimization of available time.

Also looking at leadership screening with Self-Accountability as a critical factor is a good way to up the scrutiny and improve the chances of selecting the right future leaders within the organization.

Supplying Accountability requires leaders to address two areas:

    1. addressing the role and leader needs to play in inviting self-accountable direct reports and
    2. creating a mechanism that helps direct reports take ownership and feel accountable for their responsibilities and impact.

The question then is HOW? It is uncomplicated.

Arbinger’s books Leadership and Self Deception and The Anatomy of Peace offers the key ingredient that makes this possible. While this is the “foundational level” work of Arbinger, I would recommend that leaders read one of these two books. The rationale creates a fundamental shift in mindset. It clarifies the steps needed to transform from a culture of holding people accountable to supplying accountability.

For more information, visit www.arbingersea.com.