Every leader wants to get the best from their team. While different leaders have different strengths, some approaches to performance are universal. One such approach is “compassionate accountability.” If you’re trying to be the best leader possible, compassionate accountability may help you fine-tune your approach. In this blog post, we’ll explain what compassionate accountability is and how you can implement it in your organization.
What is Compassionate Accountability?
Compassionate accountability balances two human tendencies: the desire for connection and the drive to get things done. As social beings, humans tend to lean towards compassion. We seek to understand one another’s feelings in order to build connections.
When it’s time to meet a deadline or achieve a goal, however, humans also tend to lean towards effort. We seek to get things done – to put in work and then to see the results of that work. When the work is assigned by others, or others depend on its outcome, we hold ourselves accountable.
Sometimes, these two tendencies can be at odds. We may abandon connections to get the work done, or we may neglect the work for the sake of relationships. Compassionate accountability rejects the idea that these tendencies oppose one another. Instead, compassionate accountability seeks to make them work in combination with each other for better results.
Putting Compassionate Accountability to Work
To combine social and work-focused drives in your team members:
- Put yourself in your team member’s shoes. Every team member has two foundational questions for leadership: “Am I safe on this team?” and “Can I count on my leaders?” By taking team members’ perspectives, leaders can identify ways they can build confidence in their team that the answer to both questions is “yes.”
- Separate people from their behavior. A team member missing a deadline is a behavior – it doesn’t define the entire person. When working with team members, remind them and yourself that your goal is to address behaviors, not to weigh in on the value of the human being. See each team member as a worthwhile person, regardless of the current state of their work.