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Accountability Starts With Emotional Connection

Source | | Lola Gershfeld, Psy.D.

Accountability is one of the most important things leaders must deal with in business, and often, it’s the one they struggle with most.

See if you recognize some of these suggestions you have heard from others on how to deal with holding people accountable:

“Be clear on action items, crystal clear.” It never worked for me. I mean, how much more clear can you get?

“Follow up regularly.” It’s exhausting to follow up regularly. Not only would I be totally drained, but it would slow me down, and I would get upset with the person I had to constantly follow up with.

“Share the brutal truth and then coach.” Who wants to do that? The brutal truth hurts. I mean, are you supposed to hit your employee over the head and then coach them to regain their consciousness?

Guilty as I may be, I tried doing all of those things when I was a manager years ago, and they didn’t help.

So, what is the answer? What are leaders supposed to do when they are being coached and trained to believe that accountability and ownership are critical attributes of a successful leader?

The solution is emotional connection.

The best accountability is when it is self-motivated and self-driven. When a person is not following through, it’s not because they aren’t accountable, it’s because they are stuck. They have lost their emotional connection with their leader and/or peers. They feel disconnected, stressed, isolated, disengaged and are no longer motivated to do their part in the project. Their brain is not functioning because it’s saying, “I am all alone. I am not safe.”

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