1. August 20th, 2013  | 

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Published in Accountability, Leadership

Awareness & Meeting Expectations

I was stopped for a red light with cars on either side of me

In the lane to my left were seven cars waiting for the signal to change so they could turn.

The arrow for the protected left turn flashed green. The first four cars to my left started moving, proceeding through the intersection.

Car number five didn’t budge. You get just one guess what the driver was doing at the stop light. That’s right. Texting.

The drivers in cars number six and seven sat there doing nothing, hoping the driver of car number five would look up and start moving. It didn’t happen. The light turned from green to amber to red. All three cars missed their chance to turn and get on their way.

As it happened, I was on my way to conduct an accountability workshop for a group of company leaders.

I told the leaders about my experience and asked, “What would you have done if you had found yourself in the car behind the texter?

Most of the leaders said they would’ve honked to let the driver know it was time to get moving. One leader said he would’ve done nothing.

Why not honk?”, I asked. “If I had been that driver, I’d want to know.

It’s not polite,” came the reply. “Besides, the person in the car will realize soon enough that it’s time to move.

What,“ I asked, “is your response to someone on your team who is not meeting your expectations? Do you wait to tell them they’re not measuring up?

Sometimes,” the executive admitted.

When leaders fail to address under-performance in their organization three things happen and they’re all bad.

First, the person who is not measuring up may be unaware they’re not meeting expectations. That’s not fair to that person. It’s the leader’s job to let your colleagues know where they stand. If they’re falling short, performance expectations must be re-set and a timeline for getting the performance back on track needs to be agreed to by both parties.

Second, the work doesn’t get done well or on time or both, creating problems for the organization with deadlines, budgets and customers.

Third, leaders who fail to address under-performing colleagues risk the loss of their credibility because the top performers in your organization know who’s performing and who’s not.

Feedback is not a popularity contest. It should be an objective assessment of how a person is performing.

So when a person’s not moving, it’s okay to honk.

About the Author: Greg Bustin advises some of the world’s most admired companies and leaders, and he’s dedicated a career to working with CEOs and the leadership teams of hundreds of companies in a range of industries. He’s facilitated more than 250 strategic planning sessions, he’s delivered more than 600 keynotes and workshops on every continent except Antarctica, and he coaches leaders who are inspired to take their career to the next level. His fourth leadership book— Accountability: The Key to Driving a High-Performance Culture (McGraw-Hill) —is a Soundview Executive Best Business Book.

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