Content - Pattern - Relationship

The acronym 'CPR' that the authors suggest in the book 'Crucial Accountability' is very helpful and easy to remember for directing an accountability conversation - Content, Pattern, Relationship.

Content - the content of a violation typically deals with a single event or situation.  For example, "you were 20 minutes late starting work today."

Pattern - the next time the problem occurs, we need to talk pattern.  The same violation is happening over time, it is not a one off event.  For example, "you have been more than 20 minutes late for work three times in the past 10 days."  The book suggests that 'frequent and continued violations affect the other person's predictability and eventually harm respect and trust'.  Most of us will be able to recall examples where patterns of breaching codes of conduct have resulted in a loss of trust.

Relationship - as the problem continues, talk about the relational effect of the actions.  The consequences for relationships are much bigger than the content or the pattern.  A pattern of disappointments causes a loss of trust and creates tension and strain, and eventually breakdown in relationship.  For example, "because you have been late for work a number of times in the last few weeks, other staff are having to stay late to cover for you and are missing out on important family time."

This simple way of addressing an accountability conversation is very helpful.  Often we repeatedly address the same issue with a colleague or employee without ever moving past the content to the on-going pattern and relational consequences.  Continued problems may have significant relational affects - for other colleagues, subordinates or clients.  It is worth having these difficult CPR conversations to create healthy working relationships.

Question to Ponder:- Do you have any current accountability conversations where you could apply CPR?

Accountability - Why Do We Resist It?

Within two weeks I was involved in four separate conversations on the issue of accountability.  In all four cases a lack of accountability was resulting in negative actions and far reaching consequences.

It seems that our human nature resists accountability, we see it as an undesirable concept.  Yet for our own personal growth and development, surely it is an essential element to build into our lives. 

Perhaps our negative association with accountability results from bad experiences in the past.  We have not seen accountability modeled in away that has been healthy and fruitful.  Rather it has been a legalistic, checking up and measuring up type way of relating.

Or is it that we prefer to hide behind masks that pretend we have it all together?  Is our fear of what people may think of us causing us to resist being accountable to others?  Where do culture and shame factor in here?

While formal structures may impose accountability, we can still resist and hide within these.  True accountability must be a choice, of giving others permission to speak into our lives, allowing others to ask us the hard questions.  It is inviting people we trust to come alongside and encourage us towards growth and wholeness.  A growth mindset would surely desire such accountability.

One important aspect of coaching is that it builds accountability into a safe, supportive environment.  Coaching clients recognize that for personal growth, accountability is necessary and therefore they give their coach permission to hold them accountable. 

But this is a big topic and in order to learn more I have started reading a book called 'Crucial Accountability - Tools for Resolving violated Expectations, Broken Commitments, and Bad Behavior'.  I look forward to sharing with you what I learn!

Question to Ponder:- When have you seen accountability modeled well?  Do you naturally resist or embrace accountability?

Sweat the Small Stuff

'Character always trumps gifting in leadership.  And character is made up of many small acts of integrity.  Effective leaders have to pay attention to the small stuff even if they are big picture thinkers' (Hans Finzel, The Top Ten Leadership Commandments)

All of us can probably think of people who have been removed from leadership positions over issues of integrity, that no doubt started out small. Small stuff, that if ignored, will take you out.  It may be in the area of finances, relationships, truthfulness, personal use of work time or internet and media compromises.  Maybe it's failing to keep promises, or not following through with commitments.  There are many examples of things that start out as small corner cutting and compromises that ultimately undermine our integrity and character.  As leaders, we need to set a higher standard, we need to pay attention to our character. 

Hans explains that peoples contribution in the workplace is made up of professional skills and people skills.  Great professional skills without the personal relationship side, doesn't work.  Nor does great people skills without the professional follow-up.  The ideal leader has a balance of good competencies and a solid character.

When he is hiring, there are four areas he considers:-

  1. Personal character - does this person have a good reputation and track record in their character?  Are they known as a person of integrity that people speak well of?
  2. Professional Competence - do they have the skills to get the job done?
  3. People Chemistry - is this person comfortable to be around? Are they a proven team player who gets along well with people?
  4. Perception of Culture - is this person a good match for our corporate values?  Are they passionate about what we are?

With integrity comes respect and trust.  When people know you are a person of integrity, respect and trust will follow.  It will be impossible to be an effective leader without the respect and trust of those you lead.  Let's take time to pay attention to the small stuff that builds our character.

Question to Ponder - What areas of your character do you need to pay attention to?

Keep It Simple

I'm all for not over complicating leadership.  Sometimes as leaders we may have grand ideas and yet miss the obvious.  Recently while having a casual conversation with a friend, I heard her mention three things that are absent in the leadership of her group that could make a significant difference.  They are not complicated.  She shared...

  • No one from leadership has called me in the last four years to touch base and see how my small group is going. 
  • No resources or training have been given to build into us as a small group leaders.
  • The leaders don't seem to be committed to attending the small groups, they don't model what they expect of others.

Connecting, resourcing and modelling was what my friend was hoping and expecting the leadership to provide.  These three simple concepts should be present in the leadership of any organisation.  While my friend was talking about her Church, the absence of these principles, in any group, leaves people wondering how committed the leadership really are to its people and purposes.

As you think about the groups you are involved in, whether they be a large corporation or a small charity, how does your leadership rate as far as knowing where your people are at, providing the resources for growth, and modeling what you expect in others?

Being Brain-Smart

'Workers everywhere are experiencing an epidemic of overwhelm… for many, every day involves a constant, massive, and overwhelming volume of work.  As the world digitizes, globalizes, unplugs, and reorganizes, having too much to do has become our biggest complaint.’ (Your Brain at Work, David Rock)

Can you relate to this statement?  Sadly most of us working in the knowledge economy can.  Recently a friend was describing her state of overwhelm, which included 2,000 unread emails in her inbox!  How do we keep up?

David Rock suggests that to be effective in our job we need to understand how our brain works and to develop more brain-smart approaches to our daily work.

Like any other muscle, the area of the brain that makes decisions and solves problems tires from use.  It is a limited resource and like a battery it needs recharging. Some mental processes take up a lot more energy than others.  A repeated, routine activity takes much less energy than making decisions or processing large amounts of new information.  

So how do we respect and value our brain’s limitations?  Rock makes the following suggestions:-

  1. Make prioritizing a priority – prioritizing is one of the brain’s most energy hungry activities and should be undertaken when our brain is fresh and energized.  It is crucial to prioritize where to allocate our brain's peak performance.
  2. Use visuals – save brain space by getting the concepts out of your mind, onto paper or some other visual form.  Using your brain to store information uses a valuable resource.
  3. Break work into blocks of time, based on brain use – for example creative writing, meetings, routine tasks etc. Schedule the most attention rich tasks for when you have a fresh and alert mind. Give your brain a rest and time to recover by mixing things up.
  4. Be disciplined about what you don’t think about - don’t think about a project until all the information is at hand.  Or say no to tasks that are not among your priorities.

‘Your ability to make great decisions is a limited resource.  Conserve this resource at every opportunity.’

Question to Ponder:- What could you do to conserve your brain resource and be more effective each day?

(For more information on this topic refer to 'Your Brain at Work, David Rock, Act 1, Scene 1 – Juggling Five Things at Once')