Accountability: Held Responsible for Right, Almost Right & Not Yet Right

Whining, absenteeism, tardiness, laziness, negativity, failure to follow instructions and resistance to being held accountable are the hot button issues I hear about constantly from clients.  Why don’t I hear this instead:

I  forget to constantly look for the first sign of good so I can recognize it and nurture it.  Can you help me?

First let me ask you-have you ever heard of management by wandering around?  MBWA?  Tom Peters first coined the phrase as he talked about some of the greatest companies in the world in the eighties.

I want to ask you- are you practicing LBWACPDROAR or MBSACPDW

Are you practicing Leadership By Wandering Around Catching People Doing Right Or Almost Right?

Or, if you are in an organization where people dodge accountability, are you practicing Management By Sneaking Around Catching People Doing Wrong?

You train people by your focus.  If you show people over and over and over your true interest is to catch them doing right-you create an organization craving accountability.  What’s even better is that this is a natural way to train everyone.

I am reading a great book called Switch: How to change when change is hard by Dan and Chip Heath.  This is the  same brother combination that brought you Made to Stick

Are prima donnas wreaking havoc in your organization?   Watch John Cameron Nip Problem Behaviors in the Bud !

They make a great case that catching people doing wrong accomplishes nothing. Catching people making progress accomplishes everything. They use a fantastic example we are all familiar with.  Children learning to walk.  Remember when you were learning to walk? Of course you don’t, unless you’ve had to learn to walk again as an adult.  I bet most of you have been involved with crawling children learning to become toddlers.  Do their parents wait until they have learned to walk to give them positive in-put?  Do they chastise them for not being able to walk properly yet? Of course not.

Here is how it sounds when a very young child pulls themselves up, even before they take a first step.

Look, little Jennifer is trying to walk.  Good job! You are such a big girl!


Jennifer, stand up straight, step lively, you should be walking by now! 

When Jennifer does take a fist step we applaud.  When she falls, as she repeatedly will, we tell her she did great and help her again and again as she masters a new skill.  If we want to really help her we time our help and let her fall on occasion.

Why don’t we do this as adults?  Why don’t we applaud attempts and progress and help and then let go?

Part of this is human nature. We look for the error, the wrong, the danger and the difference. This alertness to danger/bad/different is a survival characteristic.  To grow people we override our natural focus on the bad and look for the good.  Most of this is being in the habit of looking for right or good.  Even before we find the good, if we want to grow people, we look for progress.

What is progress?

How do we recognize it?

How do we show appreciation for it?

Try this approach.

Activity Triggers.  Action Items: 

Susy, you are making great progress on LIST BEHAVIOR

This  VERY SPECIFIC IMPROVED BEHAVIOR  is really helping the team accomplish VERY SPECIFIC GOAL and you are making a name for yourself as someone who is willing to make needed changes.

I am so pleased, chuffed, excited by this VERY SPECIFIC IMPROVED BEHAVIOR. 

Share with me the SPECIFIC DETAILS of how you’ve made such great progress in this VERY SPECIFIC IMPROVED BEHAVIOR.

Tell me exactly what I can do to help you continue your wonderful progress in this VERY SPECIFIC IMPROVED BEHAVIOR.

Adopt this process and you will be known as a great boss who LBWACPDR and not a boss who MBSACPDW.

(MBSACPDW-Management by sneaking around catching people doing wrong.)

(LBWACPDROAR-Leadership by wandering around catching people doing right or almost right)

About jcameron

People don't avoid tough conversations or tough actions because they are stupid or or lazy or don't care. People don't take on the tough things because they aren't confident and comfortable with a process to take them on. Confidence builds courage and courage leads to action. Through consulting, speaking, training and resources, using humor and great process, John Cameron helps teams and leaders own the skills, the plan and the courage to do what they must do to increase the wealth of their clients, themselves and their organizations. Before he became an energetic and powerful speaker and trainer, John Cameron was a proud member of the 1st of the 509th Airborne Battalion Combat team. After military service, he earned a business degree and worked as a stockbroker in Carmel and Sacramento, California.  John moved into the advertising field, leading his growing sales teams to 37 uninterrupted quarters of growth. During three of those quarters he was project manager during replacement of a legacy advertising system. While managing the project he led his team to double digit growth and found savings of $750K a year-without sacrificing people! When he became a speaker and trainer, John already possessed a wealth of life and workplace experiences to draw upon for his presentations. Add to this John's experience as a top trainer for major national training orgainizations and the result is consulting, training and speaking filled with strategies and techniques that have been tested and proven to work in the real world.
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4 Responses to Accountability: Held Responsible for Right, Almost Right & Not Yet Right

  1. Good points John. When doing parenting workshops, I encourage parents to compliment children when they do things well and/or make good attempts. Sometimes parents want to know why they should validate kids for doing something that comes relatively easily to them, and the simple answer is that we want them to do it again.
    This transfers to all people (and all work situations.) People want to be noticed when they’ve done things well. When we do, they’re likely to do it again.

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  3. David says:

    As a substitute teacher, I utilize management by walking around the classroom. Unfortunately, I am not given anything to reward positive behavior. The only thing I can do is punish students by sending them to the office or leaving their name for the teacher when they return. I suppose I could leave the name for those individuals who were responsible and acting in a positive manner. Focusing on the negative seems to be the norm rather than the exception.

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