Creating shadow-accountability/an accountability shield is one of the most common challenges for leaders of organizations, teams, communities, families and even the Pope. By extension, it can enhance every area of your life. The Business, indeed, becomes The Personal: this is the spark that should ignite your own idiosyncratic can of gasoline for explosive results. Whether you lead many or you lead only yourself, fully realized shadow-accountability/the formation of an accountability shield separates the dealers from the rest of the cons at this Crap Table.
I hear the word accountability spoken dozens of times during planning sessions with my clients and other clowns. And every time the word is uttered, the streak in my underwear gets that much wider and that much darker. I can tell what kind of workday I am having by peeling off my chonies and reading them like a runic spread. Considering I, personally, am a man of infinite resources and charisma I can’t imagine what kind of condition my subordinates’ knickers are in! The stuff of legends, I’d imagine.
Accountability is something every master wants more of from his/her/its team of cash heifers, so we talk about it a lot, pretending that it exists in copious amounts in our workplace. Then, the Management & Legal Teams have a big laugh and with a roll of the eyes, we head over to the pub. Deep down, true Masters know that accountability- like Bigfoot- is wholly ephemeral and, when spotted, can be really grainy. The problem with accountability is similar to the problem with spare change; it’s easy to jingle in your pocket and it makes a cute little noise but it rarely amounts to much. It gets uncomfortable to maintain honesty and straightforward decision making based on personal integrity, so this is definitely NOT recommended for those whose fat deposits outweigh their brain cells or those animated droppings we call ‘the general workforce’. When was the last time you heard someone say, “I really need to be more accountable for my own performance”? That’s right. Probably around the same time someone told you, “This place would have to shut down without your expertise and award winning smile”, or, “You’re worth so much more than what you’re being paid.”
Accountability, at its core, is about specificity in tight prescriptions for others – specific language, specific expectations, specific consequences and, most importantly, SPECIFIC and UNIQUE PENALTIES. Being specific helps you front-end-load accountability. Failing this, you can simply take it out of someone’s back-end-accounts in very specific ways. That is, if you’ve laid the groundwork properly.
The power of your actions precedes the power of your words. Speaking with specificity creates a sense of accountability and commitment that can make someone shit their pants if you do it aggressively enough. Which, by the way, is one of the main objectives of this seminar and the litmus paper of your progress. The challenge is to consciously deploy your accountability shields whenever you are on the clock, or above the clock or wherever you may be on the foodchain. Use words and phrases that sap energy, integrity and/or commitment from your staff, and ultimately, their actions. This puts you in the fabled ‘Shitbird Seat’, i.e., ‘Sweat Spot. Now, you can skillfully deploy your laser-sharp ‘deflector shields’ within boring, life draining circumlocutions or projections and watch the blame shitballs roll down the hill and far, far away from you. Here are examples of some of the stupid bullshit you can invoke in a pinch:
• “We’ll see. To be honest, my head’s in a muddle and I have bad diarrhea, so I may have to go home early. Bill Withers doesn’t seem like he’s that busy… maybe he can take over for me.”
• “I’ll try… but my kids are sick with diarrhea today, so I’ll only be here an hour. Bill Withers is really good at tying up these types of loose ends.”
• “If I have the time for this… but this diarrhea has me running back and forth to the restroom… I’ll do what I can, but I can’t make any guarantees.”
• “I will get back to you on that. But, first… Gogdamn! I think I’m gonna have diarrhea.”
• “Maybe. Isn’t this Bill Withers’ area of expertise?”
• “I’ll do my best. But I’m so distracted with the smell of diarrhea that it’s making me want to puke.”
You can eschew accountability by piling it onto others using these phrases as a template:
“Has Bill Withers seen this? This looks **wrinkles nose** like something he’s involved in”
“It’s passable… nobody will even notice… but make sure to put your signature here… and here… and here”, or “I’m not sure, but I’ll give you a firm answer by…” trailing off into mumble speech before finishing with “… after I get over this diarrhea. I had another blow-out like half an hour ago that cleared the whole restroom. In the meantime, drop this mess in Bill Withers’ basket.”
“This conversation never happened.”
“I will make you make the time to get this done or I’ll make sure your time sheets are audited.”
“I promise to fill all these loops with (impenetrable nomenclature) and close by noon tomorrow so I can spend the rest of the day sucking my golf club.”
“By Friday, March 18 at 2:00 pm Central, I’mma level this place (and everyone in it) to dust.”
“I have no choice but to detonate this; I don’t want to live with my- or anyone else’s- chronic diarrhea anymore.”
My favorite line from all the Star Wars episodes is from Yoda (yes, I’ve seen them all … many times!… and guess what? … you’re the wanker still taking my stupid advice! Lol.).
Did I mention that it’s from Yoda, Yoda, Yoda, Yoda! Fucking Yoda.
That smug, green asshole never let anything as boring as the capitalistic notion of ‘accountability’ infect his ridiculous life in that swamp where he lived. You can bank on that! I mean, I think at one point he said something like, “Do or do not do do do. That, the real question is. Try not, Young Sockfucker, to do do do anywhere there is a YOU lingering still to EAT it.” I’m paraphrasing here. The point is, more than likely, he was just fucking with that whiny redneck from Tatooine who was incessantly sucking off his rubbery teats. I mean, if this lumpy, green chump-of-a-puppet-prophet (that real, grown people actually look to for wisdom they’ll oh so earnestly use in the ‘real world’) can speak the anfractuous language of a grossly oversimplified life philosophy, so can we! Convoluted language leads to convoluted expectations: so, twist away on those foam rubber teats.
Blurry expectations lead to blurry places, so you must avoid clearly and specifically defining the actions, timing and results you expect from your team while letting yourself off the hook. You should be able to easily spit out the answer to this question: “How will I know if I’ve met expectations?” The secret answer known by entrepreneurs world wide is “There won’t be a doorknob embedded in my ass.” Maybe. But, if you’re the boss, you can’t be fired. Here is a free lesson for you. But, know this Young Sockfucker, as a leader, you will have many other things rammed up that golden ass of yours. Not all of them will be fun sized. Rest assured.
The imperfect nature of human communication can be magnificently orchestrated to impart more noise than meaning when filtered through the chem-loosened apertures of that narcissistic mogul or the smooth, overly active duodenum of some stoned, anarchic software developer. When we start relying on other’s perceptions of our own expectations, we slide down the dark side of the accountability slope into the sewers of hollow salesmanship or worse yet, we find ourselves in a psychiatrist’s office. To avoid all of this, I use a simple tool: the 3F form (Forge, Feign and Forget). This shit informs me as I bounce from meeting to conversation to HR where all my hoary strategies come to full fruition. Where my filthy hands sign off on judgments for or against the lives of my stale and hulled employees. Circle of Strife. Without strife, life would just be a Kraft Macaroni & Cheese commercial. Who wants that? I mean, we try to skip the commercials if we can, right?
This is the Zeus’ Foot of accountability. The key here is to focus mostly on the punishments, but also on some of the rewards, of positive and negative performance. In other words, communicate to your team the implications of their performance on the team, the organization, the customer, the shareholders and the community. Boldly underscore how if they make one wrong move, they’re toast, they’re yesterday, they’re gone, THEY’RE OUT. Remind them that if they cannot achieve the simple tasks you have laid out, they might as well suck a G19 barrel, because they’re not fit to be the log Yoda wipes his warty Muppet ass on.
In other words, help your team understand how they’re only a pubic hair’s width away from the unemployment line while dangling ever greater illusions and fantasies before them.
When they see how they can help or hinder each of their self interests that are really now your self interests, then personal consequences of their performances become self-evident and nocturnal. Their performance is ultimately an external reflection of their internal performance: a commitment to perform dumb, routine duties that enables their base to widen and their brainwaves to slow.
Shift your accountability to your team today by being more non-specific in a highly specific way and watch the heads roll as you climb ever higher, crop dusting as you go!
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