Ask any fresh graduate the well-used job interview question, “where would you like to be in five years time?” and 99 percent will respond with the answer, “management.” This almost automatic response is proffered by most people because they associate management with success – a good salary package, company car, nice office and long complimentary lunch outings courtesy of the company. And of course the belief that it is easier to order somebody to do something rather than actually doing it yourself. The reality of management, however, is vastly different from these per-conceived notions and as many people climb the professional ladder they soon discover that with increased “success” comes greater responsibility and accountability.
You may be asking yourself what the difference between responsibility and accountability is. Responsibility can be defined, in my opinion, as the standard professionals hold themselves to, while accountability is the standard others hold you to. It follows therefore, that you will usually find that successful managers often place higher demands on themselves than others do of them. This can be particularly true in Indonesia.
When I first arrived in Indonesia some years ago, I would prepare for meetings by looking for ways I could encourage everybody in the company to contribute ideas. In my head I saw meetings filled with ideas and opinions’ going back and forth until a decision was made, with everybody feeling happy and respected because they had been listened to. The reality, however, was overly long meetings filled with extended silences and a great deal of blank looks.
After four such meetings I asked a team member why nobody was contributing to the discussions. He simply looked at me and said, “Everybody is sitting there thinking why is he asking me for the answers? He’s the boss, he should know. If he doesn’t then why is he here.” His honesty was beautiful and made me completely aware of the accountability my team placed on me as their manager to bring success.
Ultimately those professionals who are comfortable accepting increased amounts of accountability will be more suited to management. It is therefore wise to consider the realities of management before heading down that path. If, after careful consideration, management is still something you desire then start taking ownership of your own responsibilities, including your results, good or bad, without any finger pointing.
Linda Galindo, author of ‘The 85% Solution: How Personal Accountability Guarantees Success,’ says that ways to increase your personal responsibility include asking these questions:
Are you responsible whether the results are good or bad? You have to decide to own the results completely, no matter the outcome. No excuses.
Do you recognize your own power? You alone have responsibility for managing your career. You can't give that away unless you want to.
What are your expectations? What do you expect of others? Of yourself? Clarify with yourself and others what you expect. Ask questions to make sure you understand situations and avoid misunderstandings.
Are you dealing with the present? You can't change the past, so it doesn't matter what "should" have happened. Instead, focus on the present and how you want to react.
Do you always tell the truth? No one is perfect, but trying to cover up a mistake only makes it worse.
Are you policing yourself?
When you take 100 percent responsibility, your performance will improve, your professional relationships will flourish and your market value will soar. This is because when you take personal responsibility for the things you should do, you will distinguish yourself from the crowd.
This article was written by Monroe Consulting Group for the Jakarta Globes "You're Hired" career supplement.