Take No Prisoners
is a free weekly memo from Scott Wintrip that explores how Radical Accountability prospers companies and changes lives. Instead of taking people hostage with outdated, heavy-handed, and ineffective methods of management, measurement, and motivation, Radical Accountability focuses on creating an unwavering responsibility for getting what matters most done.
Too many leaders spend too much time serving as the longterm memory for their direct reports. This was evident this past week in a conversation I had with a senior leader at a large global organization. Her complaint was that members of her team, some of them quite tenured, were consistently dropping the ball on the simplest of tasks. For example, in planning an event, she was having to remember for them the most basic things, such as planning ahead for when to send invitations.
This type of dependent leadership is all too common in organizations big and small. The issue is not that the employees are bad, damaged, or even incompetent. Rather, a dependent dynamic has been formed over time and out of habit—employees are in the habit of not paying attention to details because they have leaders who are in the habit of remembering those details for them.
Radical Accountability facilitates interdependent relationship between all parties—leaders, employees, and co-workers. Interdependence creates a healthy relationship as we rely on each other to do our part, versus the dependent dynamic wherein one person shoulders all of the responsibility for making sure tasks are remembered and completed.
Leaders can create a shift from dependent leadership to interdependent collaboration by following these steps:
- Instead of telling people what to do, start asking them what they plan to do.
- When staff members say they don’t remember what to do or how to do it, don’t give them the answers. Instead ask more questions, like, “What did you do last time you handled a task like this?”
- If someone is truly stuck and clearly does not know the answer, ask Coaxing Questions. These inquires coax a responsive action which invites the employee to take ownership for making it happen. For example, you could ask, “What results would you get if you scheduled the invitations to go out this week versus next week?”
Interdependent Leadership relies on each party doing the next right thing. For leaders, this begins by making the practice of Interdependent Leadership the next right thing.
This Week’s Radical Accountability Activating Action: Watch for where you are engaging in dependent leadership and begin using the steps above.
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