By Philip W. Bertram, Member, Executive Leadership Alliance International

As leaders, our stakeholders often ask us to catalyze or lead change. Whether hired into new positions or asked to turnaround our existing business, we receive requests to dramatically improve results, radically reengineer processes, or change the business culture in which we operate. To do so effectively, we view ourselves as accountable for that change and the results our teams are to achieve, and for modeling the behaviors necessary for an accountability culture to develop effectively. That is, we define the desired results and set the “Tone at the Top” to ensure all our team members work together to accomplish the desired results. After we set that “Tone”, we, however, may forget all the steps necessary to effect the change we desire. Where might we find guidance on how to manage change more effectively?

In Change the Culture, Change the Game by Roger Connors and Tom Smith, the authors remind us that to achieve breakthrough results, we need to create a “Culture of Accountability”. This means we must foster, encourage, demand, and integrate “Above the Line” thinking, behavior and performance into our business. That is, when presented with a challenge, we need to empower all our team members to: “See It, Own It, Solve It, Do It!” We also must discourage our teams from falling into “Below the Line” thinking and behaviors. We must encourage them not to play the “Blame Game”. That is, we need to discourage “It’s not my job” or wait and see attitudes, finger pointing, covering your tail efforts, or inaction due to waiting to be told what to do.

Connors and Smith, as consultants by trade, provide a practical methodology for changing the culture to achieve any new goals we set. They remind us that we often focus on actions to achieve desired results without creating the experiences necessary to change beliefs first. They encourage each of us to create a new set of experiences that will change our team’s beliefs, so they can witness and then perform the right actions to achieve breakthrough results.

To help us integrate the Accountability Culture into our business, Connors and Smith suggest we master three skills:

1. Leading the Change by owning, not delegating it, and by clearly setting the “Tone at the Top”.

2. Responding to Feedback by identifying the beliefs we need to change, telling our team what beliefs we want them to hold, defining the experiences we will create for them, asking them for feedback, and enrolling them in monitoring our progress.

3. Being Facilitative by encouraging frank discussions, actively listening, and solving problems at their root, possibly through the knowledge our team members may already possess. It also means asking our team members the following questions often: What do they think? Why they think that? What would they do? And listening to and acting on their answers.

Many of us may intuitively use these three skills, but Connors and Smith effectively remind us that we need to work on them more diligently before we can fully integrate any change in the culture within our business, and fully enroll our entire organization in achieving the results desired.

I encourage you to read Change the Culture, Change the Game by Roger Connors and Tom Smith. The next time I need to lead an organizational change, I know I can effectively employ the instruction and tools they provide. I hope you will find them helpful as well.

© Philip W. Bertram 2011 All Rights Reserved

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