You are in the business of getting results. Leadership is about facing the world as it is and opening a way forward to create and realize what is yet to be. You address the needs you meet and design alternative futures. This KEY explores the heart of the leadership challenge – transforming ideas into actuality.
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The Leadership Challenge
Why do some ideas and intentions get realized while others do not? As an executive, entrepreneur or leader in your community you grapple with this dilemma. Why do specific communications deliver results and other communications get stalled half way?
This is the leadership challenge: to develop the Accountability Heart and get sustained results. Why Accountability Heart? What is it? The human heart carries great wisdom. In our work with executives and teams we seek to use natural, physical and biological models because they carry universal truth and perennial knowledge. Let’s look at the human heart and what it can teach us about accountability and sustained results.
The Accountability Heart
The human heart is a little larger than the size of your fist and provides continuous blood circulation critically needed to maintain all the organs, tissues, cells and functions of your body. The blood delivers oxygen and nutrients to every cell and removes the carbon dioxide and waste products made by the working of those cells. The heart is made up of four chambers responsible for a four-phase cycle:
- The (upper) right atrium receives oxygen-depleted blood from the body and pumps it into the (lower) right ventricle.
- The (lower) right ventricle receives the oxygen-depleted blood from the (upper) right atrium and pumps it into the lungs.
- The (upper) left atrium receives oxygen-rich blood from the lungs and pumps it into the (lower) left ventricle.
- The (lower) left ventricle receives oxygen-rich blood from the (upper) left atrium and pumps it to the entire body.
When your heart works well, it functions with integrity; the cycle is completed and then peacefully repeated time after time after time. The heart’s Integrity of function produces accountability – blood with fresh oxygen and nutrients reaches every cell in your body and clears away carbon dioxide.
Communication and the actualization of ideas follow a similar four-phase cycle. The four-phases that together form the Accountability Heart of communication are:
- I understand
- I believe and trust
- I take responsibility
- I act
Improved results and performance happen when people take actions aligned to the purpose of the organization. Actions aligned to purpose, flow out of the virtuous cycle of the accountability heart. Like the human heart that has four chambers, so too is the case with the heart of personal and organizational accountability:
1st chamber – Understanding
2nd Chamber – Belief and trust
3rd Chamber – Ownership and responsibility
4th chamber – Action
In leadership and in your work with your team, you cannot bypass or shortcut any of the phases or the communication will be broken and suffer a cardiac arrest. Your team has to first understand you; second, believe and trust you; third, take ownership and responsibility; fourth, move to action. Here is how these four phases work when you communicate well with your team:
- Understanding: I understand your communication. I understand the vision and purpose and the strategy of how we are going to get from here to there. And I understand the part I play and how I add value to our effort.
- Belief and trust: I believe and trust your communication. I see the evidence and I experience the support for this effort and for my contribution. I know and feel “We are for real”/ “this is for real.”
- Ownership and responsibility: Now that I understand and believe and trust in what we are trying to do and in the part I play, I am ready to take responsibility and to make this effort my own. I am fully in.
- Action: I take action propelled by my understanding, trust and belief, and a sense of ownership and responsibility.
An effective and powerful communication loop follows the cycle of the accountability heart – it helps us understand, cultivate belief and trust, invites us to take responsibility and ownership and points to the action needed.
Complete communication identifies disconnects, prevents “cardiac arrest”, helps repair breakdowns and reengages the cycle that leads from ideas to actualization. As you engage your teams, look to follow the communication flow: cultivate understanding, build trust and belief, foster responsibility, and empower action.
Now it’s your turn. Turn the Key. Practice the Accountability Heart. Help your teams turn ideas into reality and foster a future that will make them proud.
Our Leadership, Strategy and Innovation Programs help teams develop radical trust and breakthrough collaboration and results. Call or email us to find out about helping your team co-create the future.
© Aviv Shahar