When I do leadership workshops I frequently ask the participants to reveal what is the most difficult part of leadership. In the vast majority of situations, the answer is the same—accountability. As challenging as accountability seems, there’s an important key to holding staff accountable. It really comes down to your thoughts. And your thoughts lead to your actions. For example; if you get a complaint about one of your staff and you think, “But she’s such a good (nurse, tech, fill in the blank),” you have unconsciously programmed yourself to make excuses. Other common excuses include:
- It’s probably an isolated event
- I don’t want to make a big deal out of it
- I’m too busy to deal with this now
The problem is that your staff sees when you excuse less-than-desirable behaviors and might be thinking:
- “I guess this is okay.”
- “She didn’t say anything to me, so it must be acceptable.”
- “She didn’t say anything to Joe. She tells us one thing and does another.”
- “I can’t work with a team where the leader is so inconsistent and team members get away with shoddy service. I want an organization with higher standards.”
Each of us has these little recordings that we play in our heads. More often than not, these little messages get played over and over, becoming unconscious habits that prevent us from taking action. My challenge to leaders is to become aware of those little messages. Write them down and then challenge yourself to create a new message that you can play back that will help you hold team members accountable.
Until you become aware of your thoughts, you can’t change them.