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Empowering Leadership – Insights from Book “Crucial Accountability”

Submitted by amanda.dumsch@… April 8, 2024
Images of the word accountable

The updated and revised version from the New York Times Bestseller, Crucial Accountability: Tools for Resolving Violated Expectations, Broken Commitments, and Bad Behavior offers key insights about problems that often plague organizations and families.  Colleagues break a rule, coworkers miss a deadline, a friend fails to live up to a commitment and nobody says a word. Nobody is held accountable. Addressing accountability is a crucial aspect of managerial responsibility; however, it is often handled poorly. 

Here are some key strategies and principles from the book that can transform how managers empower their teams:  

The Importance of Accountability:

Drawing from an enlightening experiment, the authors shed light on the prevalent phenomenon of bystander silence in the face of misconduct. However, they also reveal a powerful truth: when equipped with the right tools—specifically, a script—individuals are more likely to confront wrongdoing. This underscores the significance of fostering a culture where accountability thrives.

Initiating Accountability Conversations:

The authors advocate for a structured approach when initiating accountability conversations, emphasizing the importance of clarity and timing. By delineating the violation and assessing its appropriateness for discussion, leaders can ensure productive dialogue. Employing the CPR framework—Content, Pattern, Relationship—facilitates a comprehensive understanding of the issue at hand, fostering effective communication.

Self-Reflection and Understanding:

Central to effective accountability is self-awareness and empathy. Leaders are encouraged to examine their own emotional states and biases before engaging in discussions. Feeling moral superiority and starting the conversation from an elevated emotional state often goes badly. By avoiding the Fundamental Attribution Error and considering external factors influencing behavior, managers can approach conversations with empathy and understanding.

Establishing Psychological Safety:

Creating a conducive environment for accountability conversations is paramount. Leaders must convey respect and shared goals to instill confidence in team members. Beginning with a clear description of the discrepancy, followed by a focus on mutual purpose, sets the stage for constructive dialogue. Ending with open-ended questions ensures mutual understanding and commitment.

Motivation and Capacity:

Addressing both motivation and capacity barriers is essential in fostering accountability. Leaders must ascertain whether individuals lack motivation or face inherent obstacles. By involving employees in problem-solving and addressing root causes, managers can empower them to overcome barriers and fulfill their responsibilities.

Agreeing on Actionable Plans:

The culmination of accountability lies in actionable plans and follow-up. Leaders must ensure clarity regarding roles, responsibilities, and deadlines. Regular follow-up is essential, particularly for tasks with high risk or inexperienced individuals, to reinforce commitment and track progress effectively.

In essence, "Crucial Accountability" serves as a roadmap for leaders striving to cultivate a culture of responsibility and excellence within their teams. By embracing the principles outlined in this seminal work, managers can navigate the complexities of accountability with confidence hopefully fostering a culture of empowerment and growth. 

How To Pivot With Purpose

Submitted by amanda.dumsch@… April 29, 2024
Image of a person typing on a laptop. Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

Career pivots are becoming increasingly common. 52% of Gen Z’ers and Millennials have reported making a career pivot and they are more likely to do so than previous generations. While career pivots are becoming the norm, they are still very unsettling on a personal level.  Often changing career paths means entering the unknown to hopefully pursue a more fulfilling life and use of your energy and skill sets. 

If you are feeling unfulfilled in your current work path and are thinking about a change, first take some time to understand your why

Ask yourself these big questions:

  • Why did you choose your current industry/profession in the first place? Be honest. Don’t shy away from hard truths like familial or societal expectations.

  • Why don’t you feel your job is the best match for you? Assess the misalignments across three categories: skill set, interests, and values.


  • Why haven’t you made the change yet? Confront the thoughts keeping you up at night–your biggest fears, assumptions, and limiting beliefs.

Take your time and write out your responses. Reflect on these personal observations and chat about them with trusted career mentors or career counselors

Once your internal reflection is underway, you may also feel inclined to start taking some external action. Here are some steps to get started:

1.Identify what energizes you and what drains you. 
Start really paying attention to your attention and energy levels throughout the day. We all have our own natural circadian rhythm, but is your energy impacted by the tasks on your to-do list? Likely yes! 

Reflect on the past month and think of two or three times when you felt like you were really thriving – times when you felt fully engaged, productive, inspired, and fulfilled.  Now, consider the following:

- What were you doing that gave you energy in these instances?
- What skills, mindsets, and strengths did you draw on?
- Do these examples resonate with your core values?

List 3-5 examples of work and activities that generally excite you more than exhaust you and vice versa. You can either look for new ideas and solutions to do more of what fuels you in your current career path or you can take this information to help guide your decision-making about your career pivot and next steps.  

2. Use job crafting to design new potentialities. 
Job crafting is a process that involves assessing and changing the characteristics of a job to better align with your skills, goals, and personal needs. Ask yourself: What are your ideal job tasks, interpersonal interactions, and perceptions of work?  Based on your findings, are there potential professions that closely align with your goals? Or, are there ways to make your current path more fulfilling? 

3. Find relatable reference points and role models.
Research others within your target career path. Hint: LinkedIn can be a treasure trove for discovery here! Study their education, certifications, experiences, and skills. Note any commonalities among people and any prerequisites that might be needed to succeed in this career path. Finding aspirational role models (even far outside of your network) can help provide clues for working your way into a new path. 

Successful career pivots rarely happen overnight. They often take patience, adaptability, and resilience. While progress can be hard to track, try to keep your momentum going by having informational interviews. Aim for at least one a week with network connections who will help you learn more about a field or help introduce you to others. Additionally, take some time to invest in certifications or courses that might be necessary for you to pivot. This will not only keep you updated on skills, but will also help connect you with like-minded professionals.