“Crucial” is defined as “decisive or critical, especially in the success or failure of something.” If something is crucial, it means, we better pull it off, or we can expect failure of the project, relationship, and even society. There’s a crucial happening going on around us as a generation.
I recently perused a book called “Crucial Accountability,” written by the same people who wrote Crucial Conversations, Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler, and David Maxfield. In this text, the authors propose that everyday around us are opportunities for conversations, particularly regarding accountability, that either never happen or aren’t done well. As a result, our families, friendships, workplaces, organizations and ultimately our societies suffer. Instead, they argue, we can use these crucial conversations and opportunities for accountability to help those around us thrive. As our relationships thrive, our workplaces will hit more of the goals we’ve set out. Employee morale will improve. Society will advance.
I know it’s a big premise, but I see it clearly happening in my context. The times when I avoid an accountability conversation are the times when those around me suffer. They suffer because they don’t grow. They suffer because the job doesn’t get done. They suffer because someone else has to pick up the slack. Morale goes down. We miss the mark of the vision we have as an organization. We fail to walk in excellence. We miss out on the best that we could be experiencing.
I believe part of this struggle is the result of a societal draw to avoid difficult conversations and a lie that’s said, “You can’t judge me.” The truth is we’re called to judge right from wrong, we’re called to hold each other to a higher standard. I don’t regret people holding me accountable. So why do I fail to do that to others? Perhaps, it’s fear. Perhaps, it’s being overly busy. Perhaps, it’s any number of things. But I know this: it’s going to change.
I want to commit to holding those around me accountable for their best. I once heard another pastor say accountability is helping someone “account for their ability.” You have a great ability and a destiny. I’m robbing you of that destiny by not challenging you to your best. I’m also hurting our organization by not challenging you to more. You’re here for a reason. Let’s move forward together. Here are a couple headlines from Crucial Conversations. If these peak your interest, I’d encourage you to get a copy of the text and read it for yourself!
- Consider “what” and “if.” Decide if it’s necessary to have the conversation.
- Master your stories and the stories of everyone involved. Understand the situation as a whole.
- Describe the gap. Explain the gap that exists between what you thought was to happen and what actually happened. Make it a safe space. Share your path. End with question.
- Make it motivating. Perhaps, they aren’t motivated to close the gap. Figure out the deeper issues regarding motivation.
- Make it easy. Perhaps, they aren’t capable of closing the gap. Help them discover reasons why they aren’t capable.
- Stay focused and flexible. As new problems arise from discussion, stay focused on the original problem or be flexible to address a new area first and then come back to the original problem.
- Agree on a plan together.
- Deal with the “Yeah, buts.”
I look forward to utilizing many of these tips and pointers in my conversations with my team and others around me. I’m excited to see how we can develop a culture of accountability. Here’s to people living life to the best of their ability!