Leaders to Leader

Lessons from the Great American Leaders & How They Apply Now

You Want Me to Hold My Employees Accountable?

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“Employees today seldom become emotional about their organizations or its output; they are only interested in making money or getting ahead. And many organizations are killing their employees with kindness, undercutting their sense of responsibility with an ever-increasing permissiveness. This is a fatal error. For where responsibility ends, performance ends also.”

Hyman Rickover

The subject of responsibility and accountability has been a topic of great interest to me over a number of years. It has always astonished me the number of managers and their companies who refuse to hold their employees accountable. They will invest large sums of money to train employees to develop their skills and improve their performance, but refuse to hold them accountable to apply those skills to ensure that performance is improved and that the monies have been wisely invested. Most often these are management decisions that reflect the organizational culture.

These tendencies are exposed by periods of uncertainty and turmoil such as we are now experiencing and there is a trend developing over the past several recessions. After each, I’ve observed more pressure from CEO’s to demand more results and a squeeze for accountability. Yet there is considerable push back from employees for their own reasons. Yet as Hyman Rickover, father of the U.S. Nuclear Navy observed, “For where responsibility ends, performance ends also.”

My research of the successful characteristics of well-known leaders demonstrates that they focus on selecting the right people. They role model, and demand personal excellence of themselves, and their employees. They focus on responsibility and execution and hold them accountable for the results. They expect that this culture of excellence flow down through their entire organization.

They also demonstrated this characteristic early in their careers, whether a supervisor or manager. They didn’t wait for this to come from above. They took the initiative, whenever and wherever they were in their careers. It was an intuitive characteristic that they applied because they knew it was the right thing to do if they were to be successful in the jobs and assignments given to them.

They understand the connection between performance and the right team of people. They knew with the right people, any plan can be made to work, and that a great plan with poor performing people is doomed to fail.

If you would like to learn more about the leadership of the great American leaders, through their own inspiring words and stories, refer to Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It. It illustrates how great leaders built great companies, and how you can apply the strategies, concepts and techniques that they pioneered to improve your own leadership skills. Click here to learn more.

Copyright © 2009 Timothy F. Bednarz All Rights Reserved

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