Professionals often have clear aspirations but struggle with knowing the steps to take to obtain them. This makes their ascent to success difficult to navigate. With more than two decades of experience working with individuals to follow their yellow brick road to
success, Roger Connors knows a key component to achievement: accountability. In this interview, he discusses key points from his latest book, The Wisdom of Oz, including the positive power of
personal accountability and the vital impact of managers leading by example.
Soundview: Why is it that people find it so difficult to accept that they are the only ones who can unleash the positive power of personal accountability?
Roger Connors: All of us face difficult things that are outside of our control when it comes to getting things done: the things that we're interested in, our dreams, our hopes, the aspirations we have, the goals we’ve set, the results we're working to
achieve. When those difficult things happen it's pretty easy to go to a place where we don't feel like we can make a difference. Those tough obstacles cause us to not turn inside ourselves and really discover that we have the ability within us to think things through, to push further, to dig
deeper, to try harder, to move things forward.
There's a lot about our social environment that entices us to feel entitled and excused and not accountable. That happens in corporations and organizations all the time where the culture is fostering this feeling that getting stuck is OK. In fact, it's not unusual in organizations to have common
things that we blame or identify. In most of the organizations I work with I hear people mention the word IT and everyone just kind of nods their head. We call that a "head-nodder."
They just acknowledge that that's an acceptable reason for not moving forward, because something didn't get done, resources weren't allocated, or problems weren't solved by others. The idea that we can do something about it is the big idea that helps to counter that prevalent
feeling that I'm stuck and allow people to move forward.
Soundview: One of the cautions you give is “practice before you preach.” For executives and leaders who will be changed by this book, how do they handle that desire to try to coerce others to follow the steps to accountability?
Connors: The most important question you have to ask is this: who's the most important person to hold accountable or who's the most important person that needs to be accountable?
Below-the-line is where people get stuck and frustrated and then they can't move forward. Above-the-line is where we focus on getting results. Who’s the most important person to move above the line? That person is yourself. You can't really move people to a better place and create an environment,
a team, an organization of greater accountability unless you're also living from that perspective and leading from that perspective.
You have to be above the line in order to lift people above the line. When a team leader drops below the line they empower everyone on the team to come to that same perspective, to operate from that same point of view.
Make sure that you've checked yourself and that you're asking the question, “What else can I do?” And you're in the mode of seeing it, owning it, solving it, doing it. That then becomes an opportunity for you to talk about that with others in a way that allows you to be a coach and help lift
people to a better place.