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execution of these ideas, but they’re not always as mas- terful at communicating those on a timeline, and in a way that brings everyone else along.”


A healthy nervousness In order to get this across to clients, Evans asks them to look back at a time in their career when they were reporting to a difficult manager or a difficult board of directors. “We can all relate to a time earlier in our career when we worked for somebody, and when we were going to go to see that person we felt a little bit nervous in our stomach – a physical sensation that we got when we were going to see that person. Because we knew that they were going to hold us accountable for whatever our responsibilities were. “As we move up the organisational chart in our


careers we experience that feeling less and less, because there aren’t as many people who can hold us accountable – or are willing to. What we try to do is to help our clients to self-generate that feeling. “An action you can take to start doing that is to look


through the important things that you’re responsible for doing in, say, the next 30–45 days, or perhaps in the next quarter of the company’s activity. Then, send out amemo to key stakeholders saying: ‘Here’s the things that I’m going to be doing’. Use the four pieces of our accounta- bility puzzle (see panel) for each of these commitments. “So you are saying: ‘Here’s what I’m going to be doing,


here’s what it looks like, here’s this date in time when it’s going to be finished, I’m the owner of the task, or here’s who the owner is, and I wanted you guys to know about it’.” According to Evans, this action should generate a


healthy nervousness. “And I’m not talking about the kind of nervousness thatmakes you sick or causes heart disease. I’m not talking about work-related stress here. I’m talking about the healthy kind of nervousness you have before you attempt to something that is truly challenging.”


The veil of ambiguity It is not a method that will appeal to all, recognises Evans, as there are those leaders who rather like the comfort of ambiguity. “Of course, there are people who love to hide behind what we call the ‘veil of ambiguity’, and some people are successful in doing that. The people we take on as clients are people who don’t aspire to be one of those people.” To create a truly accountable organisation, an envi- ronment of emotional safety must be created, says Evans, where subordinates feel they are in a position to hold you accountable for your commitments, and are rewarded when they do. “There’s a lot of emotional intelligence woven into


our accountability method,” says Evans. “One of the things we communicate to clients that we’re working with is this: ‘Your primary role for the next year is not


Spring 2011 Irish Director 43


‘It is quite common


for leaders who use their title as the reason people should be performing to be the last to know what’s actually happening in their own company’


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