“Because your own strength is unequal to the task, do not assume that it is beyond the powers of man; but if anything is within the powers and province of man, believe that it is within your own compass also.”
As individuals and figures of authority we know the value of following a moral compass. But what about an accountability compass?
Following one serves the same purpose as a regular compass. It helps us find our way and prevents us from getting lost.
An accountability compass has four directions. Up. Back. With. Aside. Its purpose is to help us understand at any given time which we’re headed in our accountability, up and into it or back and away from it!
Here’s how to draw your compass. Create four quadrants within any circle. Draw a midline east to west. This is your “Where” line. It shows you where you stand in accountability. Mark the word “Up” in upper left quadrant. Mark the word “Back” in your lower left quadrant.
Are you stepping up above the line? Or back below the line of responsibility. This mid or “Where” line shows you where you are facing in your accountability.
If where you are in your accountability is stepping back – your stepping back from personal and professional answerability. You locus of attention may be focused on external reasons or conditions that are beyond your control and holding you back from moving up.
Moving back and below the midline of accountability has many telltale voices. Here’s a few; “I didn’t know,” “I didn’t get the memo,” “No one told me,” “That’s not my role,” It’s not my meeting I only attend it,” Market conditions caught us by surprise,” “Our competitors pulled the wool over our eyes,” “Our vendors should have informed us our pricing was too high before we lost those deals, that’s their job,” “It’s the software that isn’t integrating with our system that’s causing the delays.” Sound familiar?
“A rusty nail placed near a faithful compass, will sway it from the truth and wreck the argosy.”
Now draw a midline north to south. This line is your “How” line. In your upper right quadrant mark it with the word “With.” Underneath in your lower right hand quadrant insert the word, “Aside.”
The “How” line shows you how you are stepping up or stepping down. Are you stepping up alone (upper left quadrant)? Or are you stepping up “With,” your people (upper right quadrant)? Are you stepping “Back” on your own (lower left quadrant) or are you side stepping “Aside,” with others (lower right quadrant) and playing it safe in the crowd?
Between your “Where,” and your “How,” dimensions you’ll be able to pinpoint where and how you stand and with whom, yourself or which others; upstream to your boss or Board, cross-stream with your peers or downstream alongside with your direct reports?
Up. Back. With. Aside. Four simple directional areas. Each supports your seeing, assessing and knowing where you are in your accountability compass and that of others for any issue you’re facing.
Last step in the exercise. On top of the circle draw one simple short 3-4 inch line. That is your issue statement line. Your issue statement should be clear, clean, crisp and concise. The clearer you are as to what the real issue (even the issue underneath the issue) is the more clearly you’ll be able to plot where you and others are and how they face their accountability.
If you make your accountability compass large enough then you’ll be able to enter the initials of your team into one of the four quadrant areas. “Up,” “Back,” “With,” “Aside,” Now you can see where and how your people are accountable or not. Think a scatter chart. Your team view is there.
If more of your people are above the “Where” line you have less to be concerned about than if the population scatters below the accountability line.
If more of your people populate inside the lower left, “Back,” and Aside” then you have immediate engagement issues across your people and culture. If your people scatter out inside the upper left, “Up,” and “With,” your people and culture are working well together for the issue defined in your Issue Statement line.
Keep in mind this exercise is a dynamic one not – a fixed one. The population scatter movement of your people will change as the issue statement changes. If it doesn’t you’re leadership is facing serious blocks. If this is your team’s fixed responsibility picture your people have already checked out and left your company – they just have stepped up in their accountability to tell you. And, if this is the case and you’re clueless then – you’ve clearly stepped back, aside and away from your accountability as a leader – or you wouldn’t be ill-informed and they’d be engaged.
“Conscience is a man’s compass.”
Vincent Van Gogh
Your Accountability Compass supports your knowing where and how you and your people are holding themselves accountable by their actions or – not. Your accountability compass reflects actual observable behavior and actions – not guesses.
To get a step-by-step clear picture of accountability for yourself and those around you – here’s how to draw your Accountability Compass;
Start with a one line Issue statement on top of your compass circle.
- Enter areas, “Up,” “Back,” “With,” “Aside,” for each circle quadrants.
- Input your initials and those of your team in one quadrant or another.
- Voila, you now have your accountability snapshot.
- Assess what you see.
- Invite those around you into a group evaluation of your compass reading.
Some of your team can scatter out close to the boarder or further way. The further out toward the perimeter you or your people are the greater the intensity of their observable behavior is. Think perimeter as totally in accountability or out of it. Think close to the center placements as non-committal, riding the fence responses. What do too many of those responses say to you about your people and your leadership?
Let the team discussion begin with each team member drawing his or her compass for the same issue. See where they place each other on their accountability compass. Expect gaps between people and perceptions. They’re good. Gaps can be closed more effectively only when they’re identified.
Once you complete this exercise you have an accountability fingerprint for you and your team on any issue you direct the exercise to. This fingerprint can be the touch point for starting a rich ongoing relevant conversation.
Create your Accountability Compass. Snap a picture of it. Then email me it, if you want to.
Let’s see what your compass says about your leadership. You and I can start our conversation there.