Fostering a culture of accountability within your team is a key skill and it aligns perfectly with the coach-like style of leadership. We have covered the topic of accountability in past posts “Creating a Culture of Accountability” and “A is For Accountability.”
The foundation of accountability lies in asking three questions:
What will you do? When will it be completed? How will you report back?
When you create a work culture that embraces accountability you need to ensure that it is held without judgement. This creates an environment where everyone can learn from success and failure.
The work of Stanford Professor Carol Dweck can help leaders and their teams embrace this idea of accountability without judgment. Dr. Dweck, a leading researcher in the field of motivation, is best known from her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success and her Ted Talk “The power of believing that you can improve.”
Mindset is a simple, yet powerful, idea that emerged from decades of research on achievement and success. The idea is that we can hold a fixed or growth mindset.
In a fixed mindset, people believe that things like intelligence or talent are fixed traits. Rather than working to develop, they focus on documenting their intelligence or talent instead. Often this will lead people to only take on new projects and tasks that they believe they can do well. And when they experience a failure they perceive themselves as failures.
In a growth mindset, people believe they can develop abilities through dedication and hard work. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. With this mindset, people will strive to take on new challenges and to learn new things. When they experience a failure they will see it as an opportunity to learn.
As a leader you can help your team follow up on their commitments (to you and to each other) and to embrace the learning and growth that comes from success and failure. Here are five ways to increase your team’s growth mindset:
1. Test your mindsets
2. Follow Dweck’s 4 step process to move towards a growth mindset.
- Learn to hear your fixed mindset “voice”
- Recognize that you have a choice about how you interpret challenges, setbacks, and criticism
- Talk back to it with a growth mindset voice
- Take the grown mindset action
3. Share your own failures and successes with your team.
- Be vulnerable and willing to share your current experiences, especially your failures
- Focus on what you learned, how you processed the experience, and what was different as a result
- Create time for these discussions in one-on-one and team meetings
4. Create an environment where you praise the process.
- Broaden your team’s focus beyond the results
- Focus on effort, strategy, focus and resilience
5. Ask powerful questions to deepen learning. Examples may include:
- What were the results?
- What worked?
- What didn’t work?
- What did you learn?
- What got in the way?
- What were you responsible for?
- What will you do next?
- What do you need to move forward?
- What would you do differently next time?
- What support do you need to accomplish this?
Combining a culture of accountability with a growth mindset empowers your team and ultimately makes them more competent and resourceful.
What action will you take today?
Janice Cunning is a Leadership Coach who is passionate about partnering with fundraisers to help them create an inspired vision that transforms lives.