I saw a social media post recently from a widely regarded leader encouraging employees “to hold leadership accountable. To speak up, if management goes of course.” However, it struck me that without a clear understanding of a company’s purpose and beliefs, this is more difficult to do.
It also got me thinking about purpose and accountability. Accountability increases trust, strengthens an organization’s culture and empowers teams. So, how can an organization use purpose to increase accountability and build stronger teams?
1. Draw a line in the sand. For years, businesses have tried to cast wide nets in hopes of reaching the most potential customers. However, things have changed. Businesses need to know their unique value to attract like-minded and more loyal customers and employees. Seth Godin calls this the minimum viable audience. The right audiences will know if a business goes off course AND will be more likely to help them get back on track.
2. Know your values. Similar to purpose, values help guide the organization and provide an indication if leadership or strategy have veered off course. Start by developing values that prioritize people, relationships and connection.
3. Communicate consistently. Establishing a culture of accountability requires consistency. Goals, values and purpose should be written down and shared regularly. They must also be championed from the top and rewarded broadly across the organization.
4. Keep it simple. I feel strongly about this one. One of the best ways to create accountability is to keep it simple. When the purpose or strategy is clear, it’s easier to stay on track and for employees to know how they offer value.
5. Measure it. You can’t be accountable to something if you’re not measuring it. I’ve been exploring different ESG programs recently and am encouraged that businesses are setting goals and striving to be more accountable to improving the communities in which they operate. For accountability to flourish, businesses need to set measurable goals, establish benchmarks and foster an environment of transparency and openness.
When I work with clients, I have a strategic process that begins with developing purpose and ends with establishing accountability. I have realized companies need to not only define their purpose but also hold themselves accountable to it.