Pursue What Matters
Episode 114: Ownership – The Second Pillar of Accountability
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Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
So most of us agree accountability is key to success at work. But did you know that there are two equally important components of accountability. And if you don’t have both components solidly in place, you will not get where you want to go? Join me. And let’s learn about the second pillar of accountability.
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:22
Hi, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith, welcome to the Pursue What Matters podcast where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work. So if you joined me last week, for the podcast, I introduced the first pillar of accountability, which is responsibility. And this week, of course, we are going to focus in on the second pillar of accountability, which is ownership. Now when you hear responsibility, and ownership, you might think they sound like the same term, but they’re not, they are related. But hopefully today, you know, with the podcast, you can clarify a little bit more, the nuance around accountability. And this is actually really important, because it will make your team more effective, it will make your relationships at home more effective. And so, you know, part of the goal of kind of breaking down accountability into a little more nuance a little more specificity is so that it can help you to be more effective and efficient, help your teams to be more effective and efficient. And so that’s what we’re gonna jump into today, if you have not had a chance to listen to last week’s episode, on responsibility, definitely, I would recommend that you take some time and listen to it, I will link to it in the show notes. Because these two episodes really are a pair. And so you know, you can listen to this one first, and then go back and listen, or, you know, start with responsibility, and then follow up with this episode you choose.
Dr. Melissa Smith 2:18
So of course, every week, my goal with the podcast is to help you pursue what matters, by strengthening your confidence to lead. You know, I have seen so many leaders who they have the skills, they are so competent, and they really understand their industry, they understand their work, but they don’t have the confidence to lead, they’re not willing to have a voice around issues, they’re not willing to disagree, they’re not willing to put a stake in the ground around something that really matters. And that when this happens, right, it really does hamper our ability to contribute, it hampers our ability to reach our potential. And so, you know, there are so many incredible folks out there who are doing great work, and yet, the struggle with confidence holds them back. And so you know, with a podcast, my hope is to really encourage this confidence building. And one of the ways that we can most effectively help to build confidence is by strengthening skills, strengthening, understanding, strengthening perspective. And so you know, when it comes to confidence, we always want to be taking action. And so, you know, with each podcast, my invitation is for you to take action. That’s why I have solutions and practical application on every podcast. And so when we think about strengthening your confidence to lead, I tried to do that in one of three areas.
Dr. Melissa Smith 3:50
So first leading with clarity, you must know what matters, always have to carry that y with you as you move forward. The second is leading with curiosity. And this is where we really get quiet, where we get curious not only about ourselves, but also those around us. This really helps to accelerate self awareness and really important self leadership because we always first need to lead ourselves right always first and, and always is this self leadership. And then the third area is leading and building a community. right because we’re in we’re in the business of making your teams better. And as we reach our potential right as each individual reaches their potential, it never stays within that person. There’s always a community there are always people that benefit. They’re always people who you know, you need their gifts and they need yours.
Dr. Melissa Smith 4:52
And so today, with the podcast as we are focusing on accountability, and this pillar of ownership, we’re really primary Really focusing on leading and building a community. Because when you are in relationship with others, when you work on a team, you don’t get anything done without, you know, first of all teamwork. But second, accountability, you’ve got to have really strong accountability frameworks in place. And so the two pillars of accountability really help us to break that down and get a little more specific. So there’s no fuzziness, when it comes to accountability, when we have fuzziness around accountability, nothing gets done. Okay. And there’s a lot of blaming, and a lot of frustration, and finger pointing. And obviously, we don’t want that for you or your team, right. And this is equally applicable at home. Because if we think about our families, they are a team. And we certainly hope that you can see them that way. And it takes a lot of teamwork, to make the family run at a home run and to be successful and happy, right? That’s really one of the great things that we want to look at. And it’s not just about the pursuit of happiness, because every research study will tell you that will be a failed endeavor. But when we pursue purpose, when we live to our values, that’s what brings happiness. And so when we can work together, and really strengthen one another and leverage our gifts, for a greater good, Ooh, that’s the sweet spot. That’s where it’s really wonderful.
Dr. Melissa Smith 6:28
Okay, so I just want to review very quickly, these two pillars of accountability, especially if you haven’t had a chance to listen to last week’s podcast, but also, concepts bear repeating, right, like when they’re important, they bear repeating. And so you know, when we think about accountability, in order to be effective at any process improvement, or organizational change must include both pillars of accountability. Now, the first pillar is responsibility. The second pillar is ownership. So what do I mean? When I say responsibility, I’m talking about responsibility on the part of the leader for structuring the accountability process. This is absolutely the leaders responsibility, you’ve got to provide a map, you’ve got to provide a framework some structure, so that your team knows what needs to be done, and why it matters. And then write team members in collaboration, figure out the how, and this is one of the ways that we avoid micromanagement. It’s one of the ways we avoid leaders being in all the weeds and highly controlling, but the leader must take responsibility for creating and, and holding the team accountable to the process. It doesn’t mean that the leader is the only one responsible for creating that framework. But the leader, the leader is responsible for that. Okay, they have a unique role in that.
Dr. Melissa Smith 8:03
So now, let’s talk about this second pillar, because this is, this is what we’re going to jump into today. So when we think about ownership, what I mean by that is ownership on the part of the team member for owning the change, owning the process, owning the task, right? So we all work together on teams, the research is very clear that increasingly, our work is team based. And so each team member must own their part for the effective success of a team. And so we all own our parts, we all own our responsibilities, right? Our tasks, our roles within that accountability framework. And so that’s what we really want to pay attention to. And so I have, I have a good quote here from Gary Keller. And what he said is, “taking complete ownership of your outcomes by holding no one, but yourself responsible for them is the most powerful thing you can do to drive your success.” Right. And I love this concept of ownership, right? Like when we think about owning something, there is no question where that responsibility lies. And so I really do like that quote from Gary Keller. And, you know, I can think of an example for myself in my own career development, where owning owning my career and owning my professional development was a game changer. And I’ve possibly talked about this before, right?
Dr. Melissa Smith 9:45
If we spend any time on the podcast, I probably have, but you know, at my first real job right out of graduate school, so right I had spent 11 years in grad school. So it it was It was a long time coming for this first, you know what I would say his career placement, I’d certainly had lots of jobs before then. But when I took that position, first of all, it was a great position and I grew so much. But from day one, I was very, very proactive about, you know, developing opportunities, developing strengths and skills in that position. And so I because I was proactive, right, because I was curious. And that’s really a big part of it. I was curious, and I was so passionate about the topic that I really wanted to learn, and I wanted to become better, right. I mean, I came with a lot of skills, especially after 11 years of school. But obviously, we’re always growing. And I think that is one of the most important perspectives to help you to have success and career is that this willingness to learn, and this humility, this recognition that okay, like, I have some great skills, but I should always be growing, I should always be a student. And so because I was very proactive, and I asked a lot of questions, and I said yes, to a lot of opportunities. I it opened up so many doors to me, right? So first of all, folks that I worked with, and especially leadership, they saw that I was approaching the work differently.
Dr. Melissa Smith 11:25
Right now, for a lot of people, when they get settled into their, you know, first career, especially post graduate studies, it’s easy to take the attitude of, okay, like, I’ve just run a long race, and now it’s time to relax, and they kind of settle in to a slower gear. And if they’re not careful, right, they don’t continue to grow and develop. And, you know, when we think about graduate school, internships, anything like that, those are periods of time, where there’s a high intensity learning and growth, and that’s by design. But if we let off the gas, if we put, if we put our gear into, you know, first gear, we are, we we run the risk of actually moving into Park and stagnating if we’re not careful, Now, that doesn’t mean that we don’t want to take time and collect our breath, and really recover from these high growth periods. But you should always own your career development Do not ever give that responsibility to anyone else, because it’s not their responsibility. And what you’ll find is that if you have a really great mentor who’s looking out for you, you might be very, very fortunate. But for most of us, what we find is that we stagnate, we fail to develop, we do fine. And maybe we’re even considered a good employee, but we’re not growing, and we’re not, we’re not growing actually, to our potential. And so, you know, I was very proactive, and it opened up so many doors for me, because right leadership, thought leadership saw that I was interested in opportunities. And so they started giving me more opportunities. And so of course, this led to clinical leadership, it led to a lot of marketing engagement, a lot of speaking across the country. And all of these efforts really contributed to me having a very strong reputation, and being well known in this in this network. And that was, that was huge, right? Like every step builds upon the next and so you have more connection, to vision, and more connection, actually, to your own potential. And so it’s just highlighting, again, how incredibly important it is to own your career development.
Dr. Melissa Smith 13:51
So let’s think about some specifics here, when it comes to ownership. So again, ownership on the part of team members for owning change, owning process, owning a role owning a task. And so there are three key points here that I want to give to you to really help you to break down, okay, how can I really own this, and for those of you leading a team, really considering how you can drill down into these concepts of accountability to make help make your teams more effective. So the first point is, of course, team members take ownership for task or project management, and are accountable to the team and the organization in that process. Now, again, this is where having the accountability framework in place, which is the responsibility of the leader, is so important, right? Because if there’s not a good framework in place, you could have a really proactive team member that doesn’t have the direction that they need, and we all Need some direction, we all need some guidance. It doesn’t mean we need to be micromanage. But we all need this, these reminders and these structures about what matters, and why and the quality of the work, right? Like that is really very important. And so, you know, when team members are able to take ownership, right, it assumes that they have some clarity about goals, and the process. And again, this is the responsibility to leader. So you can take a listen to last week’s podcast where I talked about clarity of goals, clarity of problems, and clarity of solutions. And when there is clarity around all of these things, which again, is the responsibility of the leader, man, it makes the work so much more effective and efficient. Okay. And so it also assumes that team members have what they need to be successful, they have access to resources, they’re able to collaborate, they’re able to communicate, they’re able to get their questions answered. And so again, this points us to the leader in terms of leaders, are you coaching your team members? Are you available for them? Do you have communication channels that facilitate collaboration, especially when we think about team based work? This is part of that accountability framework, that establishing that communication framework. And so we really want to pay attention to that. And so from John C Maxwell, a really wonderful leadership, thought leader, he said, “the success of a vision is determined by its ownership by both the leader and the people,.” right, we all need to be aligned on vision. And so those are some of the concepts I talked about last week. So you can check those out.
Dr. Melissa Smith 16:53
So the first key is that team members take ownership. The second point is that we have a proactive stance versus a reactive stance. And this is really important for efficiency. So when when team members take a proactive role in communication, and collaboration, and leading task completion, efficiently and effectively, it just, it creates a synergistic flow in the work, right, like everything goes more smoothly. So rather than a reactive stance, right, so a reactive stance is, you know, okay, like, I’ll give you an update, when you ask, all finish something when the deadline is upon me, right. So sometimes we can see some procrastination creeping in, we can see stalled projects, we can see a lack of communication, or some just some ineffective communication, right. So rather than leading with the goals and priorities, you we wait until someone asks for clarification. And so a reactive stance is, you know, it is a is a dead weight around a team. And so when we think about when we think about how team members can take more of a proactive stance around their roles, and around their work, you know, we never want that commitment to a role to be only at the behest of a leader.
Dr. Melissa Smith 18:33
So let me give you the example of my team. And so you know, I’m the CEO, I would be the identified leader, although I think we’re all leaders here in different respects. But I work with a team of professionals, right, so these are licensed clinicians. So they have received Higher, higher education in their field of study. They have a professional organization with professional standards, and ethics. And they’re also licensed by the state. And so we have an ethical standard within the state and professional standards within within that legal framework. And so that makes it really helpful for me as a leader, right when I am creating an accountability framework for our clinicians, right, it is not on my shoulders alone, because each of the clinicians including myself, as a licensed psychologist, we all have additional frameworks that help to guide our behavior. And so there is a personal investment for each of us to live to those standards. right that is set apart from you know, their specific work. For our team here at balance, help and healing, and what this creates, right? Whenever you can have additional frameworks, right, more than just the leader saying, Hey, this is important. It really means that team members have autonomy. And it moves them to a very proactive stance with their roles, right. So one of the reasons they want to do really competent work is because they want to maintain licensure, right? They don’t want to get dinged ethically. Now, of course, our team has really high standards with that they all have deep integrity. And so I don’t think anyone would ever approach it of like, okay, I want to do the right thing. So I don’t get dinged by by the state or anything like that. But what I’m saying here is that there is additional motivation, and investment in being proactive in really working to best practices within the field. And so we think about, so that’s an example in my field with clinicians, but I want you to think about how this might show up in your own work, and how you can have additional frameworks that helped to support this accountability.
Dr. Melissa Smith 21:15
So you know, a part of the example I just shared with you, is ethical and professional guidelines. So do you have some ethical standards in your industry in your field that can help provide a framework, right, so leaders don’t have to create this on their own? Right, sometimes there’s licensure that support these proactive stances with roles and responsibilities. And you know, we think about professional organizations, we think about additional training. So right, whether it’s six sigma, we think about what are some additional frameworks that help to elevate the quality of the work, and lend to team members taking a proactive stance, right to say, I’m going to do a great job, because this is, this is the standard I’ve set for myself. And that when you have that, in addition to a really wonderful high standard within the organization, that’s where the work starts to sing. That’s where we really start to bring our best gifts forward. And so we really do want to think about that. So it’s not just the leader saying, Hey, this is the standard, but there are additional structures in place that support proactive ownership of the work. So professional organizations, industry, ethics, that sort of thing, community ethics, that can be really very helpful.
Dr. Melissa Smith 22:54
I have another great quote here. This is by Tony Dungy, and I think it’s, I think it’s great like, and it is all about this ownership, right. So “be a pro, act like a champion, respond to adversity, don’t react, be on time. Being late means either it’s not important to you, or you can’t be relied upon.” And this is a trust issue. Right? reliability is a big trust issue. And I talked about that recently. So if you haven’t caught that episode, definitely go back and listen in to Braving trust, where I talk about how reliability is critical to building trust.
Dr. Melissa Smith 23:31
So continuing on with Tony Dungy, so he said, “Be on time. Being late means either it’s not important to you, or you can’t be relied upon. Execute, do what you’re supposed to do when you’re supposed to do it, not almost all the way, not most of the time, all of the time, take ownership, whatever it takes, no excuses, no explanations. And what I think is really valuable about this quote, is often, unfortunately, right, the way that human nature kind of works, is it’s very easy for us to slip on the quality of our work, it’s very easy for us to slip on our commitment to a team to a project to, you know, doing our best work. And so, you know, this is why accountability really relies on these two pillars because if a leader right or an organization does not have a really good framework in place, it is much more likely that individuals are going to slip out of their values, it’s a lot more likely that individuals will slip out of their best work and their best contributions. Now, some won’t. Some will always be proactive, they have that personal drive to do their best work. But when there’s not a clear framework in place, it creates a lot of a lot of unevenness in the work right a lot of inequity in the work and that can really sow the seeds of frustration and resentment over time, because you’ve got these proactive folks who are kind of consistently bringing their best work. And then you’ve got some of the laggers, who are, you know, doing what they need to, they’re, they’re coming in late, they’re not respecting the process. And so, you know, we this is why we really need to own everything about our role and our responsibilities. And why leaders taking responsibility for a clear framework that the team lifts to, is really important because it helps to really keep some of these, these seeds of resentment, the seeds that undermine psychological safety out of the mix, okay, and part of taking a proactive stance, I want to focus a little bit more on what communication looks like in an accountability culture. And I really hope that as you consider your organization, as you consider your team, that you can see that your team is an accountability culture, or that it can be right. And so the things I’m talking about today, I hope can be helpful.
Dr. Melissa Smith 26:16
But what does communication look like in an accountability culture? So the first thing is that we over communicate, we always err on the side of over communication, because what might be perfectly clear to your mind may be perfectly fuzzy to another team member or to another stakeholder. And so we over communicate within our teams, we over communicate with other stakeholders, right? So if we think about clients, we think about customers, when in doubt, over communicate, be, be more explicit, be more direct, be more clear than you think you need to be. That is what communication looks like in an accountability, culture, right. So even if you don’t feel like you have an update, to give, provide an in process update. Right? So getting these ongoing updates on status can be really powerful. Because what we know is that when there is radio silence from a team member, or among several team members, the work grinds to a halt. And that’s where we start breeding, some distrust. And these questions about reliability really start to surface. So these questions, Can I count on you? Are you following through. And so right? If we’re not careful when we don’t have enough clear communication in place, this can be one of the factors actually, that contributes to micromanagement, and controlling because there’s radio silence because there’s not an update. And so again, err on the side of over communication, and this is with all stakeholders, both within and across symptoms or systems.
Dr. Melissa Smith 28:08
The other thing that we want to pay attention to, when it comes to communication in an accountability culture, is to consider the appropriate context, right. So especially when we have, you know, some some very direct feedback for someone really be very thoughtful about the best context for those issues to be brought up. Now, sometimes we see teams who really value transparency, but they actually go a little too far on that extreme, because they air all their concerns in a group setting, or in a broad communication channel. And that can really, that can serve as so much shame and worry for the individual who’s maybe receiving the feedback. And so, you know, I’m absolutely in supportive in support of transparency. But we need to use some discretion here, we need to respect the privacy of others. And we always right, like whether you like it or not, as a leader, you do need to carry awareness about, you know, what’s going on emotionally for folks and how it might be received. And I think the golden rule can be really helpful here, right? Like, how would I feel if I were called out in a team meeting. And so I think we do want to be careful that in our rush to value transparency, that we’re not stomping over some of our team members, and actually harming psychological safety.
Dr. Melissa Smith 29:44
So be very thoughtful about the best context whether that’s one on one, whether that’s before the meeting, after the meeting to be addressing concerns in particular and then another component of communication in an accountability Culture is having a having great communication tools for the team. Right. So there are two parts to this, not only is it important that we have really effective communication tools that are efficient, but also that we’re consistently using those communication tools, right, so that, you know, we might have the best communication tools in place. But if no one really uses them, or they take their conversations or their questions, offline or back channel, it really can hamper the productivity of the team. Now, that doesn’t mean that everything should go in those broad channels. But we want to use the communication tools that we create. So if we think about a stand up meeting for a team, having a one page form that everyone utilizes in preparation for that meeting, so right, that we have some clarity about what we’re doing and why it matters. That would be kind of your top line. And then we have a breakdown of team members and responsibilities. Right and everyone, everyone completes this communication tool. And that tool is used, right to facilitate the meeting, whether this is a weekly project meeting, or whether it’s a briefer stand up meeting, right you choose, and obviously, the length of that communication tool would shift depending on the function of the meeting. But it really ensures that everyone is taking ownership because they need to complete the form. They need to be accountable for their status and where they’re at with timelines. What does this mean for the rest of the team, right, so that the team can pivot if they need to, they can adjust timelines, if they need to, they can adjust budgets, they if they need to. And so having consistent communication tools, these can be so simple, but they’re really important and don’t overlook them don’t fall out of the practice of using them.
Dr. Melissa Smith 32:09
And then, of course, the second component of that is be consistent use them every time. And you know, in the great book Business Made Simple from Donald Miller, he has a great section on execution. And he actually gives you a really nice framework for these types of templates. So that could be a good resource. Now, I reviewed that book not too long ago. And so you know, if you really want some help in this execution piece, I would recommend that Business Made Simple. Another really great resource comes from dare to lead, which is Brene Brown’s, work and book and research. And she has the five C’s model, which really is designed to help facilitate strategic thinking, and decision making. And so she talks about these five C’s, that can really be kind of check marks for the team, as you meet to say, okay, where are we at on things where, you know, who’s owning what, how are we doing with timelines? How are we doing with resources? How are we doing with budgets. And so those are two recommendations that I would point you to if you really want help on creating a communication template for your team.
Dr. Melissa Smith 33:25
So you know, the the next component of communication, and I’ve already touched on this is the clarity of communication. So be absolutely clear about what you are intending to communicate. So every meeting should have a top 1 2 3 priorities. Every project meeting should lead with the goals of the project and why it matters. And so we want to be abundantly clear, we want to be clear about what are we hoping to get out of the communication, right? So if you think about this communication tool or template, what’s the purpose of that? Right, like, what is your intention? And what do you want from others? And what do you need from others? So use it as an information gathering tool, but be very explicit about that, be clear, make the case for why you’re using the tool.
Dr. Melissa Smith 34:20
So from Peter Block, he said, “all we have to do to create the future is to change the nature of our conversations, to go from blame to ownership, and from bargaining, to commitment and from problem solving, to possibility.” So I think this is really great when we get going on a project or we’re in the weeds as a team. It is so easy to get pulled back into blaming. And whenever we are, you know, dealing with accountability on a team and communication we always, always, always need to be focusing on what is the goal and Why does it matter, and not getting caught in relation or personality dynamics, because that will always be a losing game, everyone loses. And that’s where we’re really highly vulnerable to getting into some of how shame shows up at work and drama. And honestly, we need to be avoiding drama at every turn. So I want to talk a little bit more about, you know, a blame culture versus an accountability culture. So when we think about blame, it’s all about shame, right? When we blame someone that absolutely surfaces shame, not only for the person who’s being blamed, it surfaces shame for the one who’s blaming because for most of us, we would be living outside of our values, if we’re blaming it. Also, though, this, I think this is fascinating. It also increases the shame for everyone in the room who’s witnessing that blaming, okay, because when we do that, it just exposes us. And so whether you’re the target, whether you’re the individual who’s targeting or whether you’re a witness, there is no place for blame at work, because it really surfaces shame for everyone on the team.
Dr. Melissa Smith 36:16
So as opposed to accountability, right, which is where we’re really relying on the strength of psychological safety, we must be accountable for the good of the work for the good of the team. And when we can have some good psychological safety and trust in place, we can say what we need to say, and we can address concerns as they come up. So when we think about blame, we often get caught in fault finding whose fault is this who dropped the ball. Whereas with an accountability culture, we really are focusing on constructive feedback, what are the behaviors of concern, right? What, what can I share with you that I believe can be helpful for you? Right, so it’s all about good intent. When we think about blame, often, it’s about a global criticism, right? It’s often a global criticism of the individual. So I have a really good podcast on minding your seas, where I talk about the difference between criticism and complaint and contempt. And so you might want to check that out. But when we have blame, we really fall into global criticism of others versus and accountability culture, where we address specific complaints.
Dr. Melissa Smith 37:34
Okay, so a specific complaint might look like, your report was late, and it held up the rest of the team, we need to address this right complaints are valid, but we really want them to be focused on the behavior and not the person, right. It’s the person doing the behavior, but global criticism would look more like you’re lazy. You never do anything, right. And so you can see how caustic, global criticism can be. So when we think about a blame culture, there’s a lot of labeling the individual versus an accountability culture, which is a focus on the situation at hand.
Dr. Melissa Smith 38:13
Okay, what is the problem here? Right, like, where are we getting caught? What? Where is the friction point? And how can we work together as a team to To fix this, right? And so we stay away from labeling. So with blame, often what happens is we’re discharging anger, right, like we’re frustrated. And maybe that frustration is totally understandable, because someone is continually dropping the ball. And so there’s nothing wrong with frustration and frustration, addressed constructively can be very helpful and probably very needful. But when we get into blame, that’s where we’re discharging anger. That’s where we’re at, right? Like, we’re actually just being selfish and saying, like, Okay, my anger about this situation is more important than the feelings of everyone in this room, or the psychological safety of everyone in the room. And so discharging anger, anger is often directed outward, right? So toward team members or toward a specific individual. Whereas with accountability, we’re all about managing our emotions, right? And we all need to do that. We’re not toddlers, we’ve got to learn to manage our emotions, we need to be professional, it doesn’t mean that we hide our emotions, it doesn’t mean that we cut ourselves off emotionally because your ability to be curious about your own experience, can actually lend value to the team, but you’ve got to find a way to manage that.
Dr. Melissa Smith 39:45
So early in my career, when I started getting passionate about something, I would inevitably get a little teary eyed. And, you know, that just that was just kind of how I rolled but what I recognized is, you know, my passion was being misconstrued because I had a hard time managing my emotions. And it impacted the delivery of my message. Right. And people were, you know, what they were paying attention to is Oh, my goodness, Melissa’s crying like, what’s wrong or what’s going on. And so it really did undermine the effectiveness of, you know, my message. And so for me, right, like, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with crying. But I also think crying in a board room isn’t, isn’t always the most effective thing, right? Because it does impact our delivery, and it impacts how our message is received. And we each have a responsibility to manage our emotions. And so that’s something that I certainly worked on for myself, and I think I still work on it when I noticed myself really having a strong emotional reaction, right, which can totally happen for each of us, especially when we care deeply about the work, or, you know, there’s a difficult situation that comes up.
Dr. Melissa Smith 41:05
So part of the way that we can manage our emotions is to slow ourselves down in the moment, to be able to check in and have some curiosity to use some, some Distress tolerance skills, you know, some paced breathing can be incredibly helpful to be able to, you know, one of the things I can say to myself is, what’s the most important piece of what I’m feeling here? Right? And how can I communicate that effectively, so you’re slowing yourself down, you’re coaching yourself through these situations, rather than just reacting emotionally rather than just discharging anger, which often leads to a lot of drama, and a lot of hurt feelings. So when we think about a blame culture, there is a lot of all or nothing language, right? So he never shows up on time, she always slacks off. And it’s very unhelpful. Because none of us are all good or all bad, right? None of us are perfect, or total failures. And so we really do want to stay away from all or nothing language. Now, our brains kind of like all or nothing language, because it simplifies things for us. It helps us to make decisions, it helps us to draw conclusions and move on, especially when there’s more emotional charge with a situation. But we want to stay away from it, because it all or nothing, language does not serve us. And so instead, with an accountability culture, we want to think about specific targeted language. So meaning that we are precise, we are specific about concerns, we are able to identify the concern, we’re able to pin down what’s happening for us. And all of this goes back to leading with curiosity, because you’ve got to have a certain amount of self awareness to be able to be specific and precise with your language.
Dr. Melissa Smith 43:03
So a couple couple more to talk about, first of all, is with a blame culture, we have a lack of direction or follow up, right. So you might have a good framework in place, but no one’s really utilizing it, no one’s really following up. And so that’s a problem versus an accountability culture, where we do have consistent follow up. And there’s corrective action as needed. So right, like if someone is not pulling their weight on a roll or, or a responsibility, we have accountability on the team that we know that’s going to be addressed, right, we’re not going to sweep that under the rug, we’re not going to hope that we’re not going to wring our hands and just hope that the change happens, because chances are it will not. So we take corrective action. And we can do that with care. We can do that with absolute respect, but we’re not going to ignore problems.
Dr. Melissa Smith 43:58
And then the last difference that I want to talk about with a blame culture, we compare unfairly, so comparisons among team members can be disastrous, it really undermines psychological safety. And often when we make comparisons, we’re doing that very unfairly, right? Like we’re trying to support our narrative or our case. And so it’s just not a good idea. Versus accountability, where we really want to teach and model specifically, right, like we want to, I want you to think of yourselves as a coach, where you can teach the principle or the concept or the skill. And you can model that right. And of course, we know that example is the most powerful teacher. So hopefully, this exploration of what is the difference between a blame culture and account and an accountability culture can really help you, especially when it comes to communication, right because that’s such a big driver of the car. of culture that we create.
Dr. Melissa Smith 45:01
So now I want to talk about the last key point when it comes to ownership. And I want you to think about a pulling process versus a pushing process. Okay. So, you know, when we think about a pulling culture or process, this is where, you know, team members or leaders, specifically, pull, for the information that they need. And they’re, it’s very reactive, because what it means is that is that other team members are not pushing information to them. Right? So this becomes a very inefficient system. So when we are left to pull for information to say, Hey, where are you at on this project? Or did you finish this or you missed the deadline? That’s a pulling process. It’s very ineffective. It undermines accountability. And so instead, we really want to have a pushing process where every team member is owning their role and their responsibilities. And they’re pushing information, they’re pushing the work along this project timeline. And right, of course, when every member is owning their part of the work and pushing that information, it really makes it much easier for other team members to push their work along as well. And so how do we move from a pulling process to a pushing process.
Dr. Melissa Smith 46:42
So the first thing is to collaborate sooner have built in mechanisms for collaboration and for communication, using the communication tool that I talked about earlier. identify and address concerns sooner when they’re molehills, do not wait for molehills to become mountains, right. So when we, when we have a yellow flag, address it. This really will lead to less disruption across a project and across a team.
Dr. Melissa Smith 47:14
So this is where consistent communication and collaboration use of a tool use of stand up meetings, really, absolutely facilitates a pushing process, rather than a pulling process. And so we really do want to pay attention to that. And that each team member is owning their roles such that when they have concerns, when they get to stuck points, they’re pushing that information to the leader, meaning they’re taking that information to the leader, rather than waiting for the leader to see a problem and ask about it. And so when we think about a pushing process, our teams become much more proactive, effective and efficient, right, and the work just goes so much more smoothly.
Dr. Melissa Smith 48:01
As opposed to a pulling process, which really relies on the leader, the leader is the hub. And it is reactive, it’s ineffective, it’s inefficient. It also is a big factor for contributing to micromanagement and less autonomy at work. And so in order for accountability to be effective, it hinges on trust. So hopefully, you know, you can check out the two recent podcasts that I did on trust, because accountability absolutely relies on trust among team members. And accountability is never a one way street. It always includes the leader taking responsibility for the process, and team members owning their parts in that process. And when we can do that, wow, that’s that’s really when we start to do our best work. That is, that’s when we see organizations and teams becoming incredibly effective, right, and that the whole is more than the sum of the parts for sure. And so again, I’m just going to review quickly the three key points to help you with ownership. So the first one is that team members take ownership for their parts. Second, we take a proactive stance, as opposed to a reactive stance. And as part of that, we want to think about what communication looks like within an accountability culture. And obviously we want to, we want to stay away from a blame culture. And then the third point is shifting from a polling process to a pushing process where we’re pushing the work forward, we’re pushing the communication forward, which leads to more effectiveness across the team.
Dr. Melissa Smith 49:56
So head on over to my website to check out the show notes. With the resources for this episode, I will have links to the other episodes that I mentioned today. You can do that by going to www.drmelissasmith.com/ownershippillar. So one more time, that’s www.drmelissasmith.com/ownershippillar. And so also, if you don’t mind taking a minute and doing a review that helps more people to find me. So if you’re on Spotify, or iTunes, I would love it if you wouldn’t mind giving me a review and letting me know what you think of the podcast. I’m also social. I’m at @dr.melissasmith on Instagram. So I’d love to hear from you there. And I have lots of additional resources there on all of these topics each week, so definitely check those out. So I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Remember love and work, work and love. That’s all there is. Until next time, take good care.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai