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Five Characteristics of Truly Accountable Leaders

As organisations continue to pivot in the face of the global pandemic, a few new realities are becoming increasingly apparent. It has become imperative for leaders to have characteristics that make them truly accountable.

We need our leaders to continue to step up in extraordinary ways to help drive strategy execution, inspire employees and manage the uncertainty and ambiguity that organisations face.

1. Hold Others Accountable for High Standards of Performance.

Accountable leaders make expectations clear by consistently reinforcing what is essential, and what employees should prioritise in their roles. Unfortunately, far too many leaders go about their work on autopilot, going from meeting to meeting, deadline to deadline, without any thought about setting high standards. Maybe they are overloaded or even burnt out and have lost passion for their work. Whatever the reason, when a leader fails to set and live up to high standards, everyone suffers.

2. Tackle Tough Issues and Make Difficult Decisions

Being a leader isn’t easy. There is considerable hard work, as well as tough people issues and many difficult decisions to tackle. Unfortunately, many mediocre leaders avoid the hard work, and that undermines their leadership and accountability. What they do not realize is they pay a price. The Hard Rule of Leadership says that when leaders avoid the hard work, they become weak. But when they have the courage to tackle the hard work, they become strong. Accountable leaders understand and ensure they have the resilience, determination, and deep sense of personal resolve they need to be effective.

3. Communicate the Strategy Across the Organisation

Leaders must ensure that employees have complete clarity regarding the company’s vision, so they can do their jobs effectively. Creating a set of well-defined goals can help people stay engaged and decrease their stress levels. Clarity is foundational to accountability. When everyone is clear on what must get done, then it is easier to hold people accountable. If there is a lack of clarity, or ambiguity and outright confusion, then you create conditions that make accountability a struggle.

 4. Express Optimism about the Company and its Future

Another behavior that accountable leaders consistently demonstrate is their ability to express optimism about the company and the future. Leaders viewed as unaccountable seem to merely go through the motions in their day-to-day work without personal investment. They may appear disengaged or unenthusiastic, which undermines the company’s ability to engage employees fully. Many employees who work remotely can feel isolated and disconnected in the virtual world, so leaders must provide support, positive energy, and a sense of hope for the future.

5. Display Clarity about External Trends in the Business Environment

Too many fall prey to a fixation on internal issues—at times to the exclusion of external forces. You need to continually challenge yourself to see if you are too internally focused. Accountable leaders regularly assess their environment to spot opportunities and identify threats and risks they can manage. It is especially critical now as employees need help to make sense of the current situation they face. Leaders must provide honest and transparent communication in a way that manages fear, stress, and anxiety.This encourages employees’ determination to help the organisation succeed.This proactive approach contributes to stronger accountability overall.

As we continue to embrace the unknown in our world, it is clear that leadership accountability will become more important than ever. In fact, it has become a crucial element for future-proofing organisations in times of crisis or drastic change.

Source: Industry Week

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