ENGAGE SERIES: Coordinate - Account


I think there is often a misunderstanding about collaboration as a driver of engagement. It does need to be structured and coordinated and it is not a sign of a soft culture. Empowerment is a wonderful thing but without accountability it loses its effectiveness. They are two sides of the same coin.

We are continuing our series on engagement and the role that coordination has in that. In particular today the need for responsibility and accountability built into our culture. A high-performance culture is one with high empowerment and high accountability.

Don Yaeger said that Camaraderie doesn't happen by accident; developing a strong sense of trust, accountability, and togetherness around team goals requires intentional effort. That intentional effort is in the coordination and the mindful, deliberate building of a collaborative environment.

The frustration here is when you have high empowerment and everyone is doing their own thing, or they have different expectations about what is required.

What we want is a super clear agreement on outcomes and alignment of expectations.

The answer is seemingly obvious but often misunderstood. Empowerment is not management by abandonment. It is releasing an individual’s and a team’s potential creativity and capability by agreeing on outcomes not the process of achieving them.

If we are deliberate in our coordination of accountability, we will get alignment and high performance. If we don't coordinate accountability, we will get random outcomes, confusion and low performance.

The principle here is that whilst we seek to empower and embolden our teams, it must come with equal amounts of accountability and responsibility. It’s about ownership and actions. Birds don’t wait for worms to be thrown into their nests.

Most people prefer an environment with high degrees of empowerment. If we want to create an engaging environment and the productivity that flows from that, there is no doubt we must empower our teams. But if we do not balance this with high degrees of personal responsibility and agreed accountability, then we will fail to align the latent potential to agreed priorities.

There are two things most people want to know in their work role, “What am I meant to be doing?” and “Am I doing a good job?”. Coordinating and getting very clear on outcomes, answers these two questions. You can literally achieve nothing as a leader until everyone knows the answers to these questions. Forget the fancy stuff this is as basic as it gets.

I have lost count of the organisations I have run, and the leaders I have worked with, who have adopted this philosophy, and universally the outcome has been commercial success.

Never underestimate or dismiss empowerment as a vehicle to drive productivity but it is only truly effective when it is coupled with high degrees of coordinated accountability. Empowerment is not soft when coupled with high performance agreed expectations.

The next time you are running a project or looking for an outcome with a team member, agree on the desired outcome, agree on the measurement of that outcome, and the time frame to achieve it. Allow the person delivering the project to input into those final outcomes, and give them the latitude to deliver it in a way unique to them. I guarantee you will get more engagement more productivity and most importantly a better outcome. Try it, you'll like it.

So that concludes our short series on how to coordinate to create engagement by; meeting, connecting, and building accountability. If you'd like to know more or are interested in our leadership excellent programme reach out, I'd be delighted to share more.

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