Managing people is tough. Holding them accountable requires balance. On the one hand, you don’t want to micromanage and allow them learn from their own mistakes; on the other, you don’t want the business to fail as a result from learnings and empowerment without oversight or accountability.
The fragility of a startup drives the right balance. Junior employees have a lot more room to make mistakes, learn and improve. Leaders don’t. Whether its a seasoned executive or a rising star with increasing responsibility, the stakes of the game of business depend on the financial security of the business. Certain decisions can tank a business. While others, can really make it thrive. After all, 90% of startups fail in the first 5 years.
At the end of the day, as a CEO of a company, one needs to figure out the right balance for each of her divisional leaders. Taking bets on people can pay off. While allowing for a leader to run down a dead-end can cause a lot of damage to the business.
Holding your leaders accountable at an individual level and department level are key. Setting objectives and key results can help guide the larger strategy. However, as milestones are missed or results fall short, intervening can mean the difference between success and failure of the business. Managing the intervention is critical. Different leaders have levels of ego and acknowledgment levels of challenges.
It’s about accountability. Setting expectations – gaining commitment – and measuring results is key. When results fall sort, the leader needs to stand up and understand why they weren’t achieved. This is not to say that aggressive goals shouldn’t be set. They should. But, there’s missing an objective by 20-30% and then again missing it by 50-60%. Owning that is key. Acknowledging that the status quo must change is key.
At the end of the day, the ultimate accountability is the CEO’s. The CEO owns the success or failure. And, her leadership team’s decisions that make the business thrive or stumble. Communication is key. Being open. Acknowledging problems – driving solutions. Challenging the status quo when you need to is important.