Accountability is a common theme in the workplace. It’s the thought that regardless of role or task, we are all accountable to contribute to the overall mission and goals of the company.
On the final day of a recent Yoh meeting, our Chairman and CEO, Hal Yoh, led a session speaking about the company goals, the vision, and yep you guessed it – Accountability. He asked a group of over 100 leaders this important question:”Would you put your name on it?”
A week later, that question is still lingering with me. To be quite candid, it’s something I have thought of daily since the meeting broke and that’s a good thing in my opinion.
His question actually took me back to my younger years, probably when I was in middle school and beginning high school. In my very small hometown, Ironton, Ohio, football is king. It’s what you do on Friday nights because it’s the only thing TO do. So the entire community gets behind the team, and in a town of only 10,000, it was nothing to see 5,000 of us crammed in and around a stadium that seated about 3,400.
The popular attire for us school-aged kids for Friday Night Lights were jeans and a Tiger Football jersey with the number of our choice on the back, and our family name up top in big letters. After entering the stadium gates, my brother and I would be ready to bounce off to meet ours friends right away. My dad would always (and I mean always) say to my brother and I, “Be careful and smart about what you do, your name is on your back, there’s no mistaking who you are.”
I can hear it in my head today just like it was yesterday. The fact that my family owned the local grocery store gave the potential for the Citti name to be recognizable. For that reason alone my dad was warning me to think about my actions, be accountable, and know that our family name would be reflected in whatever was to come of that evening. But obviously it was much more than that – it was about my personal accountability and my own good name.
It’s easy to translate that into the rest of my education, life experiences, career, etc. and for all of us to look at things with a stronger level of accountability and ownership. To ask ourselves when making a decision in our work days around financial planning and analysis, commitments to our customers, hiring the best candidate, whatever the task might be: Would you put your name on it? If not, then abort mission, course correct, and pick a different direction.
Leaders (like CEOs and dads) realize their name is on everything the company or the family does. But do the rest of us? Are we doing the same with everything we do? You have to be able to own it. That’s the real test of accountability. You have to be willing to put your name on it.