In his best-selling book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lincione describes the “avoidance of accountability” as the 4th dysfunction. He has also provided his readers with an assessment tool that can be used to determine which, if any of the five dysfunctions, is present or prevalent in an organization. Invariably, when I administer this assessment to groups I am working with, avoiding holding team members accountable is #1 or #2 on the list of issues to be dealt with. Why, is that?
In this our next look at the 3rd Cornerstone we call Freedom, we can see how accountability within an organization is not only possible, but also made much easier when trust and understanding are in place. Think about it for just a minute. If there is a high level of trust and a confirmed understanding of direction and goals, then we do have the freedom to professionally and firmly help each other be accountable for our performance. If we trust one another and we have agreed upon a certain objective, then it is both our responsibility and privilege to help each other be accountable. Notice I said help one another to be accountable…not hold one another to be accountable.
The statement “I am going to hold you accountable” has a negative and somewhat threatening tone to it. And, perhaps that tone may be needed from time to time. But, if I say “I’m going to help you be accountable”, it sounds like I am there to assist you…support you…remind you…do whatever it takes to make sure WE win.
Folks, we are missing the concept of mutuality when it comes to this subject. The mutuality of responsibility and duty, yes; but, also the mutuality of respect and victory and servant-leadership. If we are truly going to be (or ever become) a high-functioning team then we simply must have the freedom to help each other perform.
WARNING: Don’t try this at home (or anywhere else!) if the first two cornerstones of trust and understanding are not in place. How can any of us help another be accountable if there is a lack of trust or a misunderstanding about what is expected.
Next time we will begin looking at the 4th cornerstone: Unity