Leaders must hold their peers accountable to do the hard work of leadership.
Over the past 18 months, many of us have gotten through an incredibly challenging time by putting our heads down and getting the work done. As a result, we’ve narrowed our focus. In the best-case scenario, we’ve connected deeply with our own teams, but let cross-team relationships fade. In some cases, we’ve let all our work relationships wither.
If you feel closely connected to your team, you may feel like you’re doing your job as a leader. But your team isn’t an island. The behavior of your fellow leaders on other teams and in other departments creates the culture that you and your team must work within.
You have a responsibility as a leader to reach out, connect with your fellow leaders, and encourage one another to step up and do better. If you believe your organization’s culture matters, you must put in the work to help shape it. And that means paying attention not just to how your team interacts, but how the organization’s culture manifests in the people around you.
WHY IT MATTERS:
As a leader, your actions every day create your organization’s culture.
Top executives do have a huge responsibility in setting the tone for the organization’s culture. But culture doesn’t have to be set entirely from the top down. In fact, the C-suite can’t do the job alone. You and your fellow leaders at all levels of the organization have a huge role to play.
The small day-to-day decisions you and your peers make have a huge influence on your organization’s culture. Your culture is built through these small choices: how do you handle performance issues? Do you call your colleagues on it if they’re letting things slide? Do you communicate honestly or hide behind buzzwords?
Committing to consistent high standards can energize your organization.
Research has found that a small group of managers who are committed to building a sense of community within an organization can, in fact, drive a lasting cultural change. The simplest steps may be the most powerful: reaching out and connecting with a fellow leader, or sharing your thoughts on what the organization’s culture looks like today and what it looked like in the past or could look like in the future.
In my book, Accountable Leaders, I write about the 10 characteristics of a strong community of leaders, including: leaders have clarity on the strategic direction of the organization; leaders celebrate success; leaders support one another; and leaders have a one-company mindset.
Another key characteristic of these strong cultures is leaders holding each other accountable by calling out unproductive leadership behavior. In our global leadership survey, leaders rated this item the lowest. They knew that giving honest feedback to peers was a weak point. Making the commitment to do better and hold your peers accountable could spread outward and ultimately energize your whole organization’s culture.
WHAT TO PAY ATTENTION TO:
Build strong peer relationships that can withstand a little honesty.
Why are so many leaders doing such a poor job of holding their peers accountable? Many leaders struggle to manage performance issues on their teams, and speaking frankly to peers can be even more challenging. You’re not this person’s boss, yet their actions affect you and your team—and yours affect them.
This is part of the hard work of leadership. But in order to do this hard work, you have to first build strong peer relationships, to create the foundation for these tough conversations.
Imagine that your team is waiting on a dataset or decision from someone on a peer’s team. That person is creating a bottleneck because they are juggling too much, or they don’t understand the urgency of your team’s project, or simply because they’re not stepping up and doing what’s required of them. Now your team has come to you for help. How easy would it be for you to pick up the phone and have a frank conversation with this other team leader?
If that idea makes you cringe, your peer relationships need to get stronger. Be deliberate about making time to connect with your fellow leaders. Ask for advice on leadership challenges you face and encourage an open dialogue. Commit to holding one another accountable.
Are you holding your peers accountable?Gut Check for Leaders
- Community starts with building relationships at work
- Do you have meaningful leadership conversations with colleagues?
- How to develop effective work relationships
More Leadership Resources
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