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How to Create a Culture of Accountability

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Accountability is elusive, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, you may have all that is needed except for time and discipline. Too much time management drastically impacts your ability to connect and fully show up to minimize risk, expand capacity, and have truthful conversations. In this #AskJess Anything question roundup from the Fast Track Your Business program, Jess Dewell focuses on how to reduce failure by intentionally designing points of accountability.

The impact you can achieve is directly related to how and what you think about … including avoidance, over-positivity, and even accidental oversight. Knowing what work is necessary — and what work is possible — you can achieve more than you ever thought possible.

In this program you will learn to be ruthless about what is possible; that you can understand the nuances of what you can control; and that you are a model for what behavior is desired. Jess Dewell will share how a commitment to a weekly Present Retreat™ will give you a way to design more accountability into your life and business.

Host: Jess Dewell

What You Will Hear:

You can’t move forward without accountability.

Often overlooked are the positive behaviors of being accountable.

How lack of accountability is connected to business failure.

Top patterns that sneak up on teams that limit results.

Identify your blind spots and start with the 7 Business Lies We Wish Were True.

Three questions to seek additional perspective to make important decisions.

Three ways increasing accountability can improve your business.

How to identify the areas we are overlooking, avoiding, or viewing through rose-colored glasses.

Prioritize using a combination of values, energy, and workflow.

Additionally, for the Fast Track Your Business Today Uncut conversation:

Ask “why do we need/want/benefit from …..” questions.

You can discover more about what is in your control.

A Present Retreat™ is THE accountability tool to help your business.

Structure your regular and consistent Present Retreat™ time to engage with your strategy with a small action.

The answer to your biggest challenge designing accountability into your life and work.

Get started and make a difference in your business with a Growth Framework Reset.



Welcome. This is the Bold Business Podcast. Your business has many directions it can travel, the one true direction of your company creates the journey for you to move toward a new, exciting level. We call this the Red Direction. Jess Dewell brings you a 20-year track record of business excellence, where strategy and operations overlap. Your path comes from consistently working from the special place, your unique TrueNorth. Now, here’s Jess.

Jess Dewell 00:34
Welcome to the Bold Business Podcast. And this is our live stream edition. And today, it’s our live stream edition with the Ask Jess anything questions that come up once in a while. And I shouldn’t say once in a while all the time. It’s only once in a while that we bring what comes from the Fast Track Your Business community to you publicly in our podcast feed once in a while. All right. So here’s what we’ve got today. We’ve got accountability, accountability, accountability. And before we get started, I just want to let you know, so glad you’re here. This is a fantastic day, this is a day that is going to help us get to the next part of the day, some of us are in that mode. Others of us are in the mode of let’s get to tomorrow, or I’m really excited that the last quarter of the year has just started. Regardless of where you are, in this moment, as you’re listening in here to the live stream. As you are picking this up in our podcast feed, I have to tell you, I have to tell you, you will get some great information today that will help you with accountability. And before we get started with that, Scott, as always is around, he’s in the background, you may see him on screen, you’re going to hear his voice a little bit today, we’ll see what happens. But just so you know, our number two voice is in the house. And that’ll be exciting as well. And I have a little bit of a cough. So I might cough a little I might drink a little and I might have to put in a lozenge just of some sort. Because the timing to our live stream with this little tickle is impeccable, impeccably, on cue to be a distraction. Today’s word of the day, those of you who know me, well know that I have a word of the day. And I was like, you know, I was thinking about accountability. And it’s not accountability, the word of the day today is face. And it’s an interesting word on many levels. And I have to tell you, we’re going to see how it shows up throughout the program. Because as I was preparing for this program, a couple of days ago, I didn’t know what the word of the day was going to be. But now I do. And that word is face. So keep that in mind, I’ll probably bring in a little bit more about what that could mean how that means. But it’s a word for you mostly to decide what do I want that to mean today? How can I look at the world with that in mind? And can I get a little bit of a shift? Can I get a little bit of an inspiration? Is it just something it’s like, cool fact, I’m moving on whatever it is for you. Awesome. Now, Fast Track Your Business is a program that you can find out more about along with all of our podcasts programs on the platforms you like, at Red And here’s the thing about the Fast Track program. It is something that allows you to get information as you need it on demand for your biggest challenges and your biggest source of extra information to spark your curiosity, your innovation, your creativity. Okay, accountability, here we go ask Jess anything, it’s kind of a cool feature of the Fast Track Your Business program that we put together where we have uncut interviews with all of our guests, we have additional information and we have the ability to allow you to get direct access to me and all of the resources at my disposal to help you with the pressing questions that you have. Now we’ve had a lot of questions, and I’ve pulled out the ones that are related to accountability. And it’s interesting, because what I have found and Scott, I’m not sure if you find this, you know, to in your world day to day, it’s a topic that actually comes up a lot. What is accountability? How is it different than responsibility? Do I have it? How is it like leadership? What are all of these other things that people tell me about? And I know it’s necessary for success? I also know it’s a reason for my failure, but I don’t really know what it is. How about what about you? Is that something that you sense or do you experience once in a while?

Scott Scowcroft 04:43
Absolutely. And it’s almost as if without accountability, you can’t go forward because of two things really. One is external and the other one would be internal. The external one is that And people will, people will take a look at what you’re doing. And we’re finding this to mostly the business realm. And to be held accountable means that you’re going to do something, and then there’ll be a result from that. And most people think of accountability as Oh, you did something wrong, and you’re being held accountable. Hmm, you do something right, and you’re held accountable for being right, then that means that people will have higher trust in you that you’ll have a higher self-esteem because you’re, for obvious reasons, and you’ll be able to move forward. So that’s the extra nod. And then there’s the internal accountability, which might equate to character. So those are, those are my initial thoughts for you.

Jess Dewell 05:51
This is so great, because I never thought about accountability. Like are being accountable, like having a consequence. There’s, we look at one side more than we look at the other.

Scott Scowcroft 06:04
Yeah, usually, because we’re really mad at somebody accountable for that. Oh, huh. Uh-huh.

Jess Dewell 06:15
Okay, well, this is good. Well, and actually, you know, this, this is interesting, because the questions I picked lead right into this, Scott, so thank you for that. And the results of the questions that you’re going to hear today, you were going to take away, that you can be more accountable, and it’s up to you to design it. The other thing that will come out of today’s questions that you will be able to take away is that it’s important to be ruthless, and to know, what is possible, and what isn’t possible. The third thing is to know what you can control. And the fourth thing that’s going to come out of our answers today to the questions that are that we have rounded up for you is that it’s important to understand what you prioritize. Because what you do models to the company, what is acceptable to do, and tells them what is important. All right. So with all of that in mind, we’re going to jump in, I have five questions today. And we’re going to attempt to get to all of them. And I believe we’ll be able to do that in our time together. I know four will be answered We might get a bonus of a fifth one. Let’s see what the time does. So our first question that I get asked in various forms that we have put together here for you is how is lack of accountability connected to business failure? Oh, okay. How is lack of accountability connected to business failure? Well, the lack of accountability to the way, what Scott was talking about earlier, the positive side and the negative side of accountability, if I’m being held accountable, it’s usually bad. Yet, it also can be really good. And so sometimes we get stuck in the positive, so much so that we are overlooking things and we’re, we’re setting traps for ourselves to get stuck and held back in. I call that busy in disguise. I also call that over-positive. And there’s another thing that happens too, when we think about accountability is well, it’s cost savings, and it’s revenue growth. And it’s this, and it’s that it’s all of these very tangible outcomes. And we can get so stuck in those tangible outcomes. Because there are processes that we can optimize for cost savings for productivity, being able to get the and doing more with less. And those can actually weigh us down. And those are the things that actually will cause us even though we’re doing the right actions to fail. And so let’s look at each one of those. So, business failure related to a lack of accountability is action without progress, hamster on a wheel. And so when the same actions are occurring, but no changes in existence, that could be on cost, cutting on cost, cutting on cost, cutting up figuring out how to save money, figuring out how to save money, figuring out how to save money, and you’re not actually doing that. That is a place where you’re doing the right thing, but there isn’t a result. So continuing to do it means failure Let’s talk about business failure related to lack of accountability in regards to busy in disguise, we have a whole question about this further down in the, in that what’s coming. So you’re going to hear more about this and disguise. And this is that busy in disguise, it could be, well, I’ve got a full calendar, well, let’s stay positive to the point of overlooking the reality. And when we’re thinking about that, when we’re thinking about this concept of busy in disguise, we’re really good at rose-colored glasses all the way around. And those rose-colored glasses could be our blind spots, they could be traps we’re building for ourselves, they could be places that we’re choosing to be positive, instead of looking at the reality, for some reason, within ourselves, within our team that we have created, and we’re all over looking at in the team. And there is a part of our show notes today will be a link to a better make sure I’m saying this accurately.

Jess Dewell 11:11
For our Fast Track Your Business today, people, there will be a link to a PDF that’s about the seven lies in business that we wish were true, and what we can do about them. Now, that’s the thing to key to be to key in on is that if we’re busy in disguise, we’ve got these blind spots, we have to know what our blind spots are. And that is an important piece of understanding how to move forward because we’re leveraging our own strengths and weaknesses this way, we’re doing a check. And I think that that’s a big part that will also come back to is this is the, the checkpoint, right? How do we, how do we check ourselves? Because we can hold other people accountable? In the sense of is it done? Is it not done? Is it going the way that it should or not? But who does that for us? And we can also say, Wow, you really showed accountability by and listing these positive behaviors for others. But who do you have to do that for you? And that’s another piece of business failure, we don’t have it coming to us. So we don’t, or forget, or deprioritize, the importance of doing it for others. And then again, the third piece here is business failure from lack of accountability regarding being weighed to down by process, it could be that while we’re doing the right things to ensure we found this process, we’re gonna keep doing it. And that could be I used cost savings earlier. Another one would be productivity, how do we squeeze a little more out every time to be more productive with what we’ve got. And we forget to actually look at the process itself as an opportunity. And so when we become weighed down, when we’ve optimized, and we’re still not getting the results, and we choose not to change, we let our accountability slip. And we need somebody to help us hold ourselves accountable to that. And there are ways that you can do that. That PDF, that seven business lies that we wish were true, those rose-colored glasses is something as a starting point. And, you know, so write down, do you know what your blind spots are out of all of the self-development, all of the leadership work that you have done, the way that you show up in business where you’ve seen yourself fail, trip up have to adjust. Those are clues about your blind spots, get them written down, because then when you’re thinking about what do I need to do? are we accountable? Am I doing this by design? Or am I not getting the results that I want? How do I change, we can start with the blind spots of ourselves and the way that we work together within our company. So I also in addition to that idea of blind spots, I’m I think it’s also important to share three questions so that you can make important decisions and get to the juicy parts of those decisions without getting stuck in all of the things and the details that go into the data collection for those decisions. All right, so a different perspective to make important decisions to have accountability by design. Include, here are the three questions number one. Do you know what information tells you the real story of how your business is doing? Question one A and are you using it And then the second question, do you have the ability to build consensus as a team, especially amongst leadership that regularly discusses your written strategy?

Jess Dewell 15:20
And that’s basically saying, do you talk about your strategy and make updates from a living document, something that is always front top of mind something that does change a little bit, something that adjusts with what’s showing up in your world? And the third question is, what controls do you have in place to detect and prevent problems? There are no easy answers to these questions. And just taking a moment to see well do I could I start with do I have this? Or do I not yes or no? Well, that’s the first part. And then how are we doing it? What can we do? What are the things in place that can help us answer these big questions? Because this is part of the working on your business. This is part of your present retreat to make sure that you’re on track to make sure you’re leading your team and guiding them forward the way that you would like, and achieving those goals more because it’s up to you. You’re the torchbearer. And that top-down matters a lot of the time, even though there’s a lot that can come from the bottom up. Take a cap be okay. Scott, I have a question for you. Is the buck stop here about being responsible or being accountable? I don’t know the answer to that. Oh, my gosh. Right. Is the buck stops hear more about responsibility or accountability?

Scott Scowcroft 16:54
Well, I suppose I suppose I could. I have two responses. One of them is, it might be their circumstantial, or it might be depending on the person. So you asked the question as an either-or, and might be either or, or an interim.

Jess Dewell 17:13
Okay, that’s kind of where I was gonna go with it. And I was just gonna make it accountability. Since that’s what we were talking about. I thought I might be shortchanging the other.

Scott Scowcroft 17:22
The second that those who are listening or watching this might have their own answer. And if they do, how could they communicate that to to us especially, do it live right now, obviously, from your platform, but if they’re listening to this recorded, how can they contact you to give their answer to that?

Jess Dewell 17:42
Well, that’s a really good question. How do you think they should contact us, Scott?

Scott Scowcroft 17:51

Jess Dewell 17:53
Yes, that is great deal.

Scott Scowcroft 17:54
I’m sorry, radio. And both of those.

Jess Dewell 17:58
It’s your it’s true. And that’s the thing I think that matters the most. And here’s the other thing. Just go to LinkedIn, and write your answer into our live stream, too. So email us go to the live stream link that’s here. Now, we will actually, and we’ll have something from this on YouTube at some point as well, like, a promo or one question or something and definitely answer these questions there. Because without you, we all can’t learn. We learn from each other, and we learn from each other’s experiences. And that’s part of the conversation. So Scott, I really appreciate that as part of you bringing this part in. Okay. Yeah, it’s what did you say?

Scott Scowcroft 18:38
It’s all connections.

Jess Dewell 18:40
All connections. That’s exactly right. So I want to hear now, I want to talk about now our big second question of the day. So our first question, right, we just finished up. The second question is, how can increasing accountability help improve business? How can increasing accountability help improve business? And the thing is there are three things I say three things or three areas, that accountability definitely helps them. I could also say it helps with everything. But you know what, let’s just be real. We’re gonna be real tangible right now. Raw, the places where it matters most. And the first place increasing accountability can help improve business is in conversation, truthful conversation, realistic, pragmatic conversation. And that’s a huge piece about that we often overlook, we tend to get in this mode of here’s how we talk about things and here’s what we don’t talk about those elephants in the corner, if you will. And we do have a resource that will be on our program notes, our show notes page. About. It’s an article that I wrote a while ago called pragmatism and the worst case scenario. And I think that that’s a really important thing to think about here. Because that’s what we’re talking about on how do we improve business, truthful conversation. And that is something that takes practice. It also takes time. And you know, when we’re trying to increase our productivity, we tend to emphasize what can we get done in a certain amount of time. And conversation is something that doesn’t align with time very well. Because the good nuggets, the right nuggets show up typically, at awkward ends. Where else in passing, and when we find those, and we can learn to see those, that’s the time to stop. That’s the time to carve out a little space. And if we are time managed, or focused on productivity so much, that we can’t have those conversations, those truthful conversations in the moment, we’re missing out on opportunity. So we can improve business by increasing opportunities by increasing our context and connection with those real, truthful conversations. And then the second thing in here is how do we expand our capacity because when we expand our capacity, we can improve our business. And when we increase our business, and we’re increasing our ability of what we can do, there are more things to touch, which means there are more things to keep our eyes on to make sure don’t fall through the cracks. And that’s also accountable, how do we help ourselves make sure the right things get done? And the things that don’t work anymore? Or are officially becoming the wrong things? Get let go. So expanding capacity can improve business. And these go back the three questions might from the previous, from the previous section of what we were just talking about those big questions Without Easy Answers can help around expanding capacity in terms of increasing and designing accountability for the way that you work together. And the more accountable we are, that means the more by design, everybody knows what’s important, and when everybody knows what’s important. We know where to put our energy and attention. And we also know what to track look for Listen for fine trends about both in data and through our gut and our heart-brains as well. Because it helps us minimize risk. When we’re, when we’re doing the right things and everything is prioritized and there is a focus, we can minimize our risk, and that increases accountability.

Jess Dewell 22:58
And we have to remember here, our blind spots will come into play. It’s easy to go. That doesn’t matter. That doesn’t matter. I’ll do it one more time. Hmm, that doesn’t matter. And we get used to going and downplaying something. That is a delusion that it could be an avoidance, it could be a delusion. All in all though, it is a thing that can come back and surprise you unexpectedly. All I can think of is the loving playful cats Now Scott, you can, you can attest to this. You have a cat I’ve only had a cat once. Pet Pet Pet love that cat purring doing that cute little pausing and then all of a sudden SWAT with your with, with the nails. Does your cat do that to you? Oh, yes. Yeah, my cat has loved mites, one of them does. And so and that’s, and that’s something that I’m talking about here. So, Scott, you could probably describe it better than I can. How does your cat show love? And you think everything is good? And then all of a sudden surprise?

Scott Scowcroft 24:01
Well, I don’t know there. There’s, there’s something that happens with Lille. And so I’ve gone a little bit too far. It’s you know, I used to like this, but now I want to leave you alone. And I pride myself, I’m sensing exactly when I’ve crossed that line, and to change my behavior just in the nick of time so that I don’t get swatted. Now, if you were to ask me exactly what cues I pick up on and whatnot. I imagine I could think about it a lot. But it’s, it’s more instinctual. It’s, it’s from experience, from experience. Exactly.

Jess Dewell 24:43
There’s wisdom in the way that you know, those little movements of your cat.

Scott Scowcroft 24:48
I was trying to pay attention rather than to have a blind spot regarding that. Does that help your narrative?

Jess Dewell 24:54
I like it. I like it a lot. And, and that’s well so experienced. Thank you, Scott. Thanks. variance and wisdom help us minimize our risk because we recognize when something is, has shifted, even if it’s not detectable just yet, we know to look a little closer so that we can adapt and flex more in the moment increase accountability. All right. That was question two. Now, this is our third question. Okay. So, in our third question, this is a, this is a biggie, how do I design accountability, with the known responsibilities that we have to do, right? Because we have our, we have our business model, we have what we sell, we sell it, we serve customers, and we repeat in some fashion. And we have our economic engine that goes in this somewhere in there is the lever with which we do more, we make more money, we do less, we make less money, and we make our decisions based off of that lover. And so I think about this, and I think about all of the big things in relationship to how do I design responsibilities? Or how do I design accountability with responsibility in mind. And this is a place where I think we’ve been conditioned to go, Oh, I just gotta figure out how to do more, I gotta just get a little bit extra. If I do one more thing. And you know, all of those little pushes, are great. until you run out of energy, I actually had that happen to me, just yesterday, I had a really great work session, I took a break, because I had some appointments to go to. And then I came back. And I did one kind of work on working with a brand new client for redirection. And then I switched back into work mode and create mode and doing the stuff behind the scenes to make all of this possible. And it turned out to be a really long day. And I love good-packed days. I don’t love good-packed long days. And so I actually had to get to a place where I recognized to be accountable to my business means being able to show up tomorrow, to be accountable to Scott and the podcast crew to read direction in the right direction crew, how I need to be able to show up for them. And so I had to stop, I wasn’t done, didn’t want to be done had more energy. But I was starting to get tired. So even though I was physically getting tired, I had all of this great energy and could have kept going. And I decided to stop. And it was really difficult. And it is really difficult to start that practice. And even being able to know that that’s what’s happening. And I woke up this morning and I went, Oh, I can use this on our show today. Because I could have done more. I might not have done enough. Maybe I don’t feel worthy of the work I did. There was a point though, that there was diminishing return. And I recognize the time that I stopped was probably the exact right moment because I didn’t feel behind. But I definitely didn’t feel accomplished. And that’s all what’s between my personal ears right here. So what you’re what might be going through your head, when you’re listening to me when you want to push a little extra when you want to do something a little more. And you start feeling that way? A good first step is to go well, so what can I let go of so that I can do this better? What can I let go of so I can do this? Well, what is competing for my time, that is not as important. And this is a priority prioritization exercise that starts with a pause.

Jess Dewell 28:47
To design accountability starts with knowing when to pause. And then it starts with knowing how to prioritize. And for me, right for me, this is going to be first it’s going to be my energy. And then it’s going to be the way that I do the work. And then it’s going to be the way that I engage with others. And then it’s going to also include my values. And I actually do it in that order. Most of the time, however, workflow, energy and values could come in any order. So that’s something that you might consider those points, how can I show up to prioritize? Do I need to show up from my values first and what they mean, the way that the work is being done? Do I need to show up first in terms of my energy, what do I actually have to give right now. And that’s because it’s in that concept of there’s optimization, and then there’s just doing too much, and when we push a little too much, it’s great until all those little pushes become normal. And in that normalization, we lose accountability, because we become responsible for more and more tasks and we lose the ability to recognize and get the feedback from and make adjustments. To improve, and be accountable to the larger goals of the company, achieve this new threshold, make internal changes this way. Go through whatever all of the change management for new infrastructure or processes or to be acquired, or to integrate an acquisition, all of those things are important. And so one of, one of the things that I know companies come to me and hands down, we end up talking about this somewhere in, in the first, you know, fairly close to, to beginning to work together, we get deep, real fast. And it’s because we’ve got to understand the way things are prioritized in your business. And then how do we show up to what how do you show up to what has been prioritized in your business? And how do you empower your people to show up to what’s important to their role, which makes the business successful? So workflow energy and values are a key piece here, because it can allow you to prioritize, company-wide, strategically, based off of the culture that you have, and the way that you do your work defined by your values and the actions you actually take for impact for interest, and with available resources that you have to get the work done. Oh, that reminds me, one of my favorite people in all of history is St. Francis of Assisi. And he said, do the work necessary? Then do all of the work possible? And then the impossible will happen? And that’s really how do you how you design accountability. And this is something you’ll hear me say over and over and over again. And this is something that we practice. I practice this diligently with discipline, what is necessary work? What is possible work? And what are the results of doing those two things? And I’m always amazed. If we fall short, we’re not doing the necessary work, or we’re not doing all the work possible. If we succeed, it’s very rarely at the success point, it’s usually passed into the wow, I didn’t know we could actually do that much because the right work was done. And all the work possible was done. And that discernment of a distraction to an opportunity, that discernment of what is important is the key piece for how to prioritize. Because when you know what’s necessary, and you know what’s possible, you have a pretty good sense of what you actually have under your control and where the ebb and the flow and the flex occurs.

Announcer 33:11
I want to take a moment and give you a peek into what additional services and solutions you could access to Fast Track Your Business. This program was created to develop your capacity on demand by sharing insights, tips, as well as lessons learned by business leaders, unedited and uncut. And we don’t just stop there. There are three additional benefits to help you reach your growth goals. You’ll also have unlimited access to (1) hearing tips and insights to develop yourself as a leader to get better results more often. (2) To experiencing viewpoints from many different business leaders. (3) Receiving frameworks to build core competencies and to more effectively focus on business growth and leadership. Altogether, the Fast Track Your Business program will allow you to face uncertainty, anytime, anywhere. If you have learned something from this show that will help you in your business right now, consider what additional impact you can get by subscribing to the Fast Track Your Business program. You owe it to your business to seek out new ways to achieve more while building a resilient and profitable business. Subscribe now. Visit FastTrackYourBusiness Special thanks to The SCOTT Treatment for technical production.