By Ken Goodfellow

Only teams that are made up of the right mix of talent, direction and coaching qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. High performance standards for athletes are communicated by coaches and management and under performers will not be tolerated.

It is imperative that professionals in leadership positions do the same.

Although in the business world it is more difficult to replace employees from a practical, tactical and legal standpoint, business professionals need to understand that it should be just as easy to set clear expectations for employees and hold them accountable to those performance expectations.



In my experience of coaching over 600 real estate teams, few business leaders are consistent enough in communicating job performance expectations. Even fewer do a good job of holding their employees accountable. If a standard of high expectations is the norm within a company culture, team members will hold each other accountable to that standard.

Another key for agents in leadership positions to remember is they must hold themselves to the same high standards expected of others in the organization. They must model the behaviour they expect from their team. The quickest way to lose the engagement of otherwise positive, high-performing employees is to show up with a “do as I say, not as I do” leadership style.

Working with business leaders over the years, I’ve noticed two big challenges to setting performance standards and accountability. The first is that leaders fail to communicate high performance standards for fear of being seen as too demanding or autocratic. The second, which is related to the first, is the fear of not being liked.

Being liked means absolutely nothing. It is much better to be respected than liked.

As a business leader, if you worry about being liked, you won’t end up being liked, respected or successful. If you lead by communicating clear expectations with specific accountabilities and you give your people the latitude to learn from their mistakes while celebrating and reinforcing their wins, you will be both respected and liked.

Achieve the results you demand by implementing the following five points into your leadership strategy.

  1. Set clear and specific goals – Goals frame, define and focus the work to be done, eliminate ambiguity, provide a framework for gauging progress and measuring success and set a context for the work to be done. They also increase motivation because they harness and focus energy and action.
  2. Clarify your expectations – Clarifying expectations promotes individual, team and organizational accountability. Clarifying expectations doesn’t need to be excessively structured but it should provide the platform for focused action.
  3. Define roles and responsibilities – Clear definition of roles and responsibilities promotes ownership and self-accountability. When individuals are confident about what is in their control and what is not, they can step forward to accept responsibility with full knowledge of what is expected from them.
  4. Monitor progress and measure results – Monitoring progress and measuring results is an essential accountability process for individuals, teams and organizations that want to build their capacity to grow and improve.
  5. Listen and gather feedback – Being able to ask for feedback, provide it, receive it, accept it and act on it is an integral part of the process. This can happen as informally as asking an open-ended question such as, “How are we doing?” The idea here is not to wait until something goes wrong but to ask the question regularly.

Too often accountability is used as a synonym for blame. The reality is accountability should be a positive part of an organization’s culture, where everyone learns and becomes better from experiencing it. Failure should be embraced by the entire organization, just like success, so that you can either go home feeling like a Stanley Cup champion or return the next day with a better understanding of what it takes to succeed.

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