Maggots are eating my emotional cheese right now but it’s business as usual here at my online quarters. While I’m waiting to recover from this heartbreak vexation and for a stronger-scented emotional cheese delicatessen, I shall spill my excess energy into my professional pail. For this blog entry, I want to talk about “accountability” and how such concept became a business buzzing bee whenever I am working and how it needs to be homogeneous in a specific bureaucratic level.
Baptism of Wildfire
Those who know me personally and/or those who took some time reading few of my recent entries are aware of the first career stint I had. I’m not really sure if I can discuss my job responsibilities and our corporate structure here but there is one thing I can say in public: I have many responsibilities and people who I am accountable for. Quite heavy stint for an “entry level position”, I can say. I remember my 27-year-old boss telling me: “If you want power at an early age, then this company can give you that carnivore desire.” In my case, I do not really aim for a carnivore, autocratic type of power though I admit that I want to influence and lead people. Apparently, my boss and I were on the same page. I knew it. Influence and leadership in an aggressive and competitive industry will always pertain to authoritative power or to any aspect of it. “Assertive democratic” can be a term of compromise, I guess.
The First Strum of Boss Guitar
After a few weeks of working, I realized that asserting your power is mandatory as if you are paid solely on the basis of doing such. I was a 21 year old boy. And I was the bossing of many (older) people. Yes, you can be cocky about it and I am. But that cockiness should extend to being responsible and accountable. When I handled my first project, I internally panicked because of the number of people I need to lead. Wow, I really am a pack leader. I admit, my first project was not perfect. I discussed the post-mortem to my boss and, although I sounded professional, he knew how juvenile my analyses were.
After I discussed the results with him, I began ranting about the glitches in the system and, to some extent, the inefficiencies of the people I handled.
Stop right there, he said to me. If you don’t want your people, then fire them and search for better people who can replace them. If you don’t want the system, then fix it yourself. I just want the results. If you are talking to me, then I don’t know your people already. At this point, you are your people.
I stared at him for only two seconds but it was the longest stare and psychological digestion I had in my life. Gone are the days where I can easily report an uncooperative group mate to my professor and even feel good about it. Gone are the days where I can just blame other people or any external force at that in ruining something because it is logical and justified to do so. Gone are the days where you can just argue about the inevitability of loopholes, about the unavoidable clumsy circumstances and, yes, even about the bad weather. There are things that are really out of your control, we all know. But are they really out of your control? The famous Serenity Prayer has always been helpful.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
Level 5 Leadership
The concepts of accountability and leadership reminded me of Jim Collins, author of the books Built to Last and Good to Great (which I should read soon). I read a summary last year for one of the conferences I attended. According to Collins, a Level 5 Leader (the highest type; think of him or her as a self-actualized leader) is both modest and accountable.
Level 5 leaders look out the window to attribute success to factors other than themselves. When things to poorly, they look in the mirror and blame themselves, taking full responsibility.
You are just as good as your people.
Miguel, my boss continued, I do the same when I talk to my boss. I don’t talk about you and your colleagues. I talk about myself in behalf of the whole team. Remember this, you are just as good as your people.
That incident was one of the most significant professional awakenings I had. Yes, I know that a leader must speak in behalf of its people. I know that a leader must be responsible and accountable. I know all those yada yada yada and cliches about leadership. What I didn’t know is how hard it is to be a leader in a professional and competitive setting (Theory vs Practice, eh?). What I didn’t know is how hard it is to do magic. Magic, after all, is just a form of reality that has the ability to constantly rekindle our sense of awe (Aguado, 2011). Magic happens when you have the courage to change the things you can change and when you have the wisdom to know that these things can be changed. Alps, you have to stand with only two legs. You have to stand because a hundred more need to. You have to stand because a hundred more need you. You have to stand because a hundred more believe that it is your cup of brew.