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Leadership Accountability in Times of Uncertainty

A need for collaboration and innovation

Many of our organizations encourage a hyper-competitive atmosphere—different departments fight one another for turf, we don’t fully trust or even know people outside our silos, and we see our colleagues as our competition for accolades and promotions.

This excessive focus on the individual weakens collaboration and innovation. It creates a weak leadership culture, where leaders do not feel supported and cannot be their best.

Unfortunately, weak leadership cultures are all too common: only 15% of companies actually have the strong, supportive, collaborative leadership cultures they need to succeed.

Today, as the way we work changes around us, building strong leadership cultures is more important than ever before. We won’t be able to get through the upheaval of the transition to hybrid work models without supportive relationships with our colleagues.

Leadership accountability makes the difference

But organizations can’t reap the potential benefits of remote work without setting the tone of leadership accountability for employees at all levels. Leading remotely is a challenge that organizations must meet.

Leaders today face many challenges

Leadership has never been easy, but today, leaders face particular challenges, such as:

  • Innovation. Disruption is constant, and leaders must promote innovation to help their organizations stay up to date.
  • Strategy. It’s a leader’s job to ensure that employees understand the organization’s strategy, so that they can execute on top priorities in a timely fashion.
  • Change management. Constant change is the reality of today’s world. Leaders face enormous challenges in managing new change initiatives.
  • Creating value. Corporations today are expected not only to create value for shareholders, but to consider their impact on customers and the wider community. Leaders must live up to these high expectations.
  • Nurturing talent. Leaders can’t get so mired in the day-to-day work of leadership that they neglect developing the leaders of the future.

All these challenges exert a tremendous amount of pressure on leaders. In order to avoid allowing performance to slip, leaders urgently need support.

Accountable leadership is the way forward

In times of uncertainty, accountable leadership is a crucial differentiator. Our research proves that 5 key behaviors set accountable leaders apart from mediocre ones.

The 5 characteristics of accountable leaders

  1. They hold their direct reports and colleagues accountable for meeting high expectations. Great leaders set clear expectations, so employees know what their top priorities should be. Leaders must also hold employees accountable for meeting those expectations.
  2. They make tough decisions and have tough conversations. Leaders must never let technology become a crutch. When it’s time to make a tough call or have a performance conversation, there’s no substitute for clear, direct communication.
  3. They clearly communicate strategy. It’s a leader’s job to make sure employees clearly understand the company’s strategy and how their roles fit in. Clear goals and priorities can greatly increase employee engagement and decrease stress.
  4. They inspire optimism about the future. Especially in a world of remote work, it’s easy for employees to feel disconnected. Leaders must offer emotional support and share their genuinely positive outlook on the company’s future.
  5. They clearly communicate external trends. Leaders should stay up-to-date on trends affecting their industry so that they can help employees understand the context in which they work. Honest, transparent communication is key to helping employees feel motivated instead of overwhelmed or anxious.

Leadership for the future

Leadership accountability is crucial to preparing organizations for an uncertain future. In times of uncertainty, change and crisis, accountable leadership is more important than ever.

Only clear expectations and accountability can build the connected, resilient teams we’ll need for the future.

About Leadership Contract

We are Leadership Contract Inc (LCI), your partner in strategic leadership development. We help you operationalize leadership accountability at all levels of your organization so you can drive strategy, shape culture, and spark change.

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