One of the trickier problems for smaller businesses is accountability of “the boss.” Whether it is a sole proprietor, family owned business, or one that is majority controlled with “silent” minority partners, accountability is often a real issue. I’ve found that organizations where there is a strong measure of accountability perform better than those where accountability is weak.
While it might sound great to some to operate in an environment where they are not held accountable to a higher authority, the truth is that accountability drives results. It is easy to allow things to slide or not be as challenging as one should when no one is “looking over your shoulder.” It happens to all but the most driven of us.
I’ve worked (both as an employee and a consultant) for both kinds of organizations. Ultimately, I would much rather deal with the stresses of accountability than those that typically come without it, which is an organization that underperforms.
In any organization, it’s important for the leader to hold his or her direct reports accountable, for them to hold the next level down accountable, and so on down the line. The problem in an organization where the top person isn’t accountable is that it starts to set a precedent. That person doesn’t feel the pressure of accountability to a higher authority and over time this lack of accountability can creep into the organization. Sooner or later, you have an organization where people are showing up, but aren’t necessarily driven to improve performance day in and day out.
So, what should a business owner or manager do if no one is holding them accountable? They need to create accountability. While this can be as formal as having a Board of Directors, it can be as informal as finding trusted advisors or mentors who can provide a level of accountability on a monthly or quarterly basis.
One of the roles that I often play for my clients is to be this accountability factor in organizations. I either do this directly or by ensuring that there is regular reporting and transparency to the Board or other stakeholders.
If you are serious about improving your business, I’d suggest that you create an accountability framework for yourself. If you’re not ready to reach out to others, create a list of “MUST DO” items (not “should”, “want” or “hope” to do but “MUST” do) and hold yourself accountable for the results. I’d be surprised if you don’t see an improvement in your business performance after the first quarter. From there, things should only get better.
If your business could benefit from fractional CFO services, I would welcome the chance to speak with you. Please give me a call at (314) 863-6637 or send an email to
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