64: What Most Leaders and Managers Get Wrong about Accountability with Sam Silverstein

 

Listen to this eye-opening conversation about accountability in the workplace. Sam Silverstein flips the normal conversation about accountability on its head. As close friends, Mike and Sam, hold nothing back in this episode.

   

** You are invited to join our community and conversations about each episode on FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/respectpodcastgroup and join us on Twitter @PodcastRespect or visit our website at www.RespectPodcast.com **

 

TAKEAWAYS:

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Am I accountable to? Am I accountable for?
  • What does that mean to me?
  • How am I honoring that accountability in my actions?
  • Where am I performing well and where am I coming up short?
  • Am I keep commitments to my / our core values?

Acknowledge responsibility and accountability are different.   

Take Accountability Assessment at: www.IamAccountable.com/me

 

SAM’s BIO:

Accountability and Leadership Keynote Speaker Sam Silverstein’s mission is to empower people to live accountable lives, transform the way they do business, and to thrive at extraordinary levels. By challenging leaders to shift priorities, cultivate an organizational culture, and inspire both individuals and teams to take ownership in fresh and results-producing ways – he is helping companies dramatically increase productivity, profitability, and growth. Global Gurus recently announced Sam Silverstein as one of the World’s Top 10 Organizational Culture Professionals.  

Sam is the author of seven books including Non-NegotiableNo More ExcusesMaking Accountable DecisionsNo Matter WhatThe Lost Commandments and The Success Model.  

As a former executive and owner, Sam’s manufacturing and distribution companies sold over $100 million in products and services. He successfully sold one of his businesses to a Fortune 500 company. Today, Sam writes, speaks, and consults with organizations around the globe to think differently, work with renewed purpose, and achieve record-breaking results. He works with entrepreneurs, multi-national companies, corporations, and government agencies to drive increased engagement and productivity.

 

LINKS TO SAM:

 

YOUR HOST: Mike Domitrz is the founder of The Center for Respect where he helps educational institutions, the US Military and businesses of all sizes create a culture of respect throughout their organizations. From addressing consent to helping corporations build a workplace free from fear (reducing sexual harassment and helping employees thrive by treating them with respect every day), Domitrz engages audiences by sharing skill sets they can implement into their lives immediately. As an author, trainer, keynote speaker and coach, Mike Domitrz loves working with leaders at all levels. Learn more at http://www.CenterForRespect.com

 

READ THE FULL TRANSCRIPTION of the EPISODE HERE (or download the pdf):

 

Mike Domitrz:
Welcome to The Respect Podcast. I’m your host, Mike Domitrz from Mikespeaks.com where we help organizations of all sizes, educational institutions, and the US military create a culture of respect. Respect is exactly what we discuss on this show. So let’s get started.

Mike Domitrz:
In this episode, we are introducing you to Sam Silverstein. He is the author of eight books. Eight on the subject of accountability, leadership, and personal growth. He is committed to being, and helping others, be the best they can be.

Mike Domitrz:
Sam has been referred to as the most trusted voice on accountability, and I agree with that wholeheartedly. What’s best about Sam is that I get to call him an incredible, amazing friend and a brother. Sometimes you get to say these are your brothers and sisters you were born into and you have that wonderful family relationship and there are others that you say, this is my brother, sister who I’ve chosen in my life and Sam is one of those.

Mike Domitrz:
Sam, thank you so much for joining us.

Sam Silverstein:
It’s my honor. You know, we never decided, am I the older brother and the younger brother or are we just twins?

Mike Domitrz:
There we go. We’ll take twins.

Sam Silverstein:
Okay.

Mike Domitrz:
Cause I know the answer to that and so to you, so we’ll take twins.

Sam Silverstein:
I like that answer. Okay.

Mike Domitrz:
So awesome. Well thank you Sam so much for joining us. Today’s all about… Our show is always all about respect. You and I have talked so many times about doing something on stage together because for anybody listening today, know that Sam is an amazing speaker, speaks all the world for the largest and smallest of organizations all over. You and I have always said, we belong on the same stage together, just engaging in a conversation because accountability and respect so much align, are so critical to each other. So Sam, why is that true?

Sam Silverstein:
Respect flows out of how you see people, and accountability flows out of how you see people. Accountability is keeping your commitments to people. If people are involved… You’re responsible for things but you’re accountable to people. That’s the big difference.

Sam Silverstein:
That report won’t hold you accountable, but I know you will and hopefully you won’t hold me accountable Mike, you’ll help me be accountable, which is the true relationship between accountable people.

Sam Silverstein:
So anytime people are involved, relationships are involved. People that master relationship, master accountability. Organizations that master relationship, master accountability. Organizations that struggle with relationships, struggle with accountability. What can be more important in a relationship than respect? That’s at the very core. So what you believe about someone is going to determine how you act towards that individual. Action always follows belief. If belief is centered in respect for all people, whether they look the same or look different, believe the same, believe different, come from where you come from or come from some place different, when that respect is in place, that’s when amazing things are going to happen.

Mike Domitrz:
I love that. I’m going to back up a little bit because you said something that’s really important about being… helping somebody on their accountability journey.

Mike Domitrz:
You are not holding them accountable. This is something that you’ve always been big on and that you flip the paradigm of what most people think of. A lot of people think, “Oh, as a manager or a leader, it’s my job to make them accountable.” You say, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, let’s, let’s talk about that.” Because it’s actually not true at all. So Sam, can you explain why that’s not true?

Sam Silverstein:
Okay. So as a leader, your job is to be accountable to them and to create an environment that inspires them to be accountable and inspires them to be their best. It’s totally the opposite of how most of society sees it. Most of the society freely interchanges the word responsibility with accountability. We’ve already established they are two different things, responsible for things, accountable to people.

Mike Domitrz:
Let’s pause on that so people understand. Can you give us examples of responsible for things, accountable for people?

Sam Silverstein:
Your job description lists everything you’re supposed to do at work or certainly some of the major aspects of it. Those are your responsibilities. So maybe, depending on what your job is, you’re responsible to clean up the work area. You’re responsible to get a report done every Friday on sales. You’re responsible to make 20 sales calls a day. You’re responsible… Those are your responsibilities, and if you’re not doing those, you should be fired. I mean, if you have the skillset, if you’ve been trained, if you have the resources, well why would you let someone stay that’s not doing that?

Sam Silverstein:
Now accountable to people… Your accountability is keeping your commitments to people and it’s very specific commitments. I’m not talking about the commitments of, I’ll show up at nine. I’m talking about much more substantial, deeper commitments that build relationship, that connect to respect and that produce accountability.

Sam Silverstein:
People see accountability as punitive. “Oh, it’s my fault. I’m sorry, I won’t let that happen again.” No, accountability isn’t punishment. It’s not punitive. That’s your responsibility. Accountability is proactive, and when accountability is present in an organization, it is present because the leader understands that they’re accountable to their people first and they create the environment for their people to want to be accountable.

Mike Domitrz:
Well, what I love about that language is accountable to people is very different than accountable over people, which is what a lot of people tend to do. They tend to think, I need to make them accountable versus I need to be accountable for what I am responsible to help them thrive, to help them be bought in. Because you also have a very important definition what accountability means, which I love, which is if somebody’s accountable, then… I’ll let you go into this, but what I love is this concept of if somebody’s accountable, you don’t need to hold them accountable because they are so invested in this organization and in their job, they are accountable. You should never have to hold someone accountable because they are accountable. So can you explain that? Was that correct in how I said it or is there a different version?

Sam Silverstein:
Yes, yes, and boy, there’s a lot there. I’ll go in one direction, but I want to come back because I want to talk about the difference between accountable to and accountable for.

Sam Silverstein:
But let’s first go where you said. So what happens is when the leader is accountable to the people, when the leader is being accountable first, then you create that environment where the employee says, if it’s a in a business, “I would never want to let Sue down. I would never want to let Mary down. I would never want to let John down.” And if you feel in your heart that you would never want to let someone down, well then you’re not going to, and guess what? You’re going to be keeping your commitments back to them and accountability is going to thrive.

Sam Silverstein:
So it’s like the misinformed leader that says, “Oh well, you know, my people, they have to earn my trust.” No, that’s wrong. That’s not the way that it works. You have to earn their trust, and the way that happens is you have to trust them first.

Sam Silverstein:
So everything rises and falls on leadership. Accountability is the highest form of leadership because it’s about the leader being accountable to the people first and creating this wonderful environment. We call that corporate culture where the people are inspired to be their best and to choose to be accountable. There are organizations where this happens and in those organizations, not only is there incredibly high engagement and and satisfaction, but the bottom line flourishes beyond what is ever imaginable in business.

Mike Domitrz:
I love that you brought that up because a lot of people think to build that you have to be willing to sacrifice the bottom line. What you have found working with the clients that you help all over the world is that it’s the direct opposite. The ones that are doing this well are incredibly profitable, have incredibly successful track records of consistency financially. I think that’s interesting because some people go, yeah, but look at this one company over here, they take all the shortcuts and make all this money. Well I’ve always believed in what a guest said recently. There are two ways to do things when it comes to make money. The wrong way as far as ethically and morally, you can still make money doing that and the right way.

Mike Domitrz:
So why not choose the right way?

Sam Silverstein:
Well, exactly. I mean, you can be inefficient and make money. So why not be more efficient from a manufacturing standpoint?

Sam Silverstein:
It’s the same way with the other aspects of business. What happens is this… I shared with you, prior to this call, I shared with you a company I was just with two days ago. Where in 2008 when half of the home builders in the United States went broke. Half went broke during the great recession. This company, like the year before and like the year after, their business went up 30%.

Sam Silverstein:
There’s a reason why that happens, and it’s not luck. It’s tied to accountability from leadership to their people creating this environment because they spend as much time focused on building this environment where people want to be accountable, where people respect each other. They spend as much time on that as they do on how do you build a better house.

Sam Silverstein:
Now we gotta back up. We gotta back up. Because I told you I wanted to talk about accountable to and accountable for. Can we do that?

Mike Domitrz:
Yeah, let’s go there.

Sam Silverstein:
Okay. This I think also helps because the significance for the leader comes out in this situation. A lot of times if I’m in front of an audience, I’ll ask him, who are you accountable to? And they say, “Oh, well, you know, I’m accountable to my boss. They sign my check.” They might say, “I’m accountable to my peers in the organization. I’m accountable to my parents.” There’s all sorts of people that you’re accountable to. And then I’ll stop in and say, “Well, who are you accountable for?”

Sam Silverstein:
And there’s always this silence and this seriousness that comes up, and they go, “Oh wow. Well, I’m accountable for my children. I’m accountable for the people that report to me. I’m accountable…” and they list everyone in their life, personally, professionally, whatever, that they’re accountable for.

Sam Silverstein:
So here’s the difference. When you’re accountable to, they’re responsible for some aspect of your wellbeing, and they affect your life beyond the surface level. Does your boss impact your life beyond a surface level? Sure. Do the people who report to you impact your life? Sure. Do your parents as a young child? Sure. Now accountable for is you’re responsible for some aspect of their wellbeing. You impact their life beyond a surface level.

Sam Silverstein:
I liken this to the difference between ownership and stewardship. Ownership, you can do what you want, but when it’s stewardship… You know, if it’s my money, I can do what I want. But if I’m a steward and I am for my mother, for her resources, I can’t take chances. I have to protect that like crazy. There’s a higher degree of responsibility.

Sam Silverstein:
As leaders, whether we’re leaders in a business, leaders in our family, leaders in our synagogue, mosque or church, leaders in the community, when we are accountable for some aspect of the wellbeing of someone else, that responsibility carries with it such importance that when we step that out through the commitments that we make and keep with those people, we become accountable and we inspire them to be accountable.

Mike Domitrz:
Ideally we’re accountable to and accountable for, right? It’s not one or the other. Let’s say that you’re a parent or a leader in an organization. You’re accountable to the people you lead, as you said, because you need to be role modeling, creating that, setting that atmosphere. You’re also accountable for them because you’re in charge of that division. If you’re a parent, you’re in charge. You know that’s your family.

Mike Domitrz:
So is it a yes and a yes or is it no, it’s always four and not two?

Sam Silverstein:
Great question. So here’s the thing. If you’re accountable for, you are always accountable to, but if you’re accountable to, that does not mean that you’re accountable for.

Sam Silverstein:
When your children were younger, when they’re eight, nine, 10 years old, they’re accountable to us as parents. They’re accountable to us to clean their room, to do the right things, to do their homework, whatever it is, but they’re not accountable for us. They’re not. We’re accountable for them, and in that situation, when we’re accountable for them, we’re also accountable to them. It doesn’t work reciprocal both ways. If you’re accountable to, it doesn’t mean you’re accountable for, but if you’re accountable for, you’re always accountable to.

Mike Domitrz:
Makes perfect sense. So let’s take an example in the corporate world where you’re accountable to but not accountable for.

Sam Silverstein:
Well, it’s real simple. If you’re my boss, I’m accountable to you, but that doesn’t mean I’m accountable for you. You’re my boss.

Sam Silverstein:
If you’re a leader… The true definition of leadership is accepting the responsibility of someone else. That’s what a leader does. You can be a leader in title, but to be a leader in fact, forget the title. To be a leader in fact, you’ve accepted the responsibility for someone else. In that situation, you’re accountable for their wellbeing. That means I’m not in your company just to produce something so you make money. You’re accountable for my success, which means you have to train me. You have to educate me. You have to look for… You’re supposed to if you’re a truly accountable leader, what potential do I have? How can you help me develop that potential? How can you grow me as a person? How can you help me be better? Even if it means one day I’m going to go someplace else.

Sam Silverstein:
Now when you make that kind of investment in me in time and money, well guess what? I would never want to let you down. I would never go to another organization for a nickel, a dollar, five dollars, whatever.

Sam Silverstein:
Now might I outgrow the organization? Might I end up someplace else? Yes, and if that happens, you will celebrate that. And guess what? My loyalty doesn’t go away. I’m still sending the best people to you. You’re building an organization of great people, attracting great people and retaining great people. And I’ll argue this with anyone, if you attract the best and keep the best, you will outperform everyone. It is a bottom line. There is a bottom line result that connects to accountability. It’s undeniable, but you have to look at your people first, not the bottom line. If you’re only focused on the bottom line, it’s a short term decision, not a long term decision.

Mike Domitrz:
It fits in the old statement, winners want to be with winners, right? So if you are creating a winning environment, you draw more winners. It just is logical.

Sam Silverstein:
Exactly. Exactly.

Mike Domitrz:
I could see the danger for some people out there is that they’re trying to be accountable for when they should be accountable to and that can be dangerous. So if I’m trying to make myself accountable for my boss, I’m stepping over a boundary that might not be appropriate. I don’t have enough ability to actually impact or control that and a lot of drama can come up in that. It can become an unhealthy relationship because I’m trying to fix something that’s not mine to fix.

Sam Silverstein:
Well, ultimately I get that. I get that. I guess it depends on the severity of the situation and your actions in that moment, but the most accountable leaders are transparent. They’re humble and they’re willing to step aside from their ego. They’re able to have the open and honest conversation with somebody.

Sam Silverstein:
One of the 10 commitments is a commitment to live the values of the organization. If I’m a leader and I made a decision and it does not connect with one of our values, you should feel more than comfortable because of the relationship that I have worked to build with you as the leader… I’m the leader. You should feel more than comfortable to look at me in the eye and say, “Sam, I think you’re missing something here.” If we do that, you realize that we’re not living, as we say we believe in value and this value of whatever that value is and I should go, “Wow, Mike, I didn’t see it like that. I totally missed that. Thank you. Thank you. I appreciate that.”

Sam Silverstein:
Now when that type of relationship exists between people, then what happens is employees aren’t looking over their shoulder because they know the leader’s got their backs. So they only look in one direction, which is forward. If you’re not looking back and you’re only looking forward, guess what? You move faster. Organizations that move faster are always going to outperform the competition. Always.

Sam Silverstein:
It’s still going to come back to the relationship that’s in place that allows you or me to have that frank discussion with someone, whether they report to us or we report to them. When you can do that, because we’re all human beings, so this comes down to the R word, respect. It doesn’t matter about the title. It doesn’t matter that you earn more than me. We’re still human beings working together. You just happen to be the president and I’m an engineer. That’s just what it is, but we both have the same worth. The same value as people.

Sam Silverstein:
So now when we can talk to each other as people, this organization is going to flourish in a way that it’s never flourished before. This is counterintuitive to what most leaders believe. They might say they believe something different, but their actions tell me otherwise.

Mike Domitrz:
All right, so that’s a great point, Sam. Let’s go into some questions. Every listener out there could ask themselves to help them further identify whether they’re on the right track in this area or where they could make some changes and improvements. So what are some example questions that everyone could ask themselves right now about their role, either in their family or their work that would identify if they’re accountable to, for, you know, tells them what’s happening there?

Sam Silverstein:
I have created a personal assessment that people can take at Iamaccountable.com/me that does provide valuable information around that.

Mike Domitrz:
We will have that in the show notes.

Sam Silverstein:
I would start looking at my relationships and look at them and go, “Am I accountable to or am I accountable for?” Then when you look at that relationship and you say, “Am I accountable to, am I accountable for?” Now we’ll go, “What does that mean? How is that playing out and how am I honoring that accountability in my actions?”

Sam Silverstein:
So you’re really, you’re stepping back and you’re saying, “This is where I’m performing. This is where I’m coming up short and this is where I might need to reinforce.” I think that’s a great place for people to start and then realize that accountability and responsibility are different. And look at accountability through the commitments to people and not the transactional commitments like getting me the report you promised me. That is important and I don’t want to diminish that, but are you keeping specific commitments like commitment to the truth, commitment to your values or commitment to a safe place to work, not just physically safe, emotionally safe?

Sam Silverstein:
That all that comes back to respect and things of that nature. So how do you see people? Are you valuing people? Do you judge people? These are all sorts of conversations that I try to have with myself on an ongoing basis and I would encourage anyone else to have with themselves as well.

Mike Domitrz:
Sam, where did this show up in your life? Where was there a moment where you had an aha takeaway for yourself to say, this is what accountability means to you? What was that moment that drove you to this path? Because you had a very successful corporate America career. You were running a large manufacturing company that was highly successful. Where along the path? Was it before that? Was it after that, that accountability struck you as an aha moment?

Sam Silverstein:
I’ve made a lot of mistakes in business. Sometimes I say… And I’ve shared this with you. I think back on my window manufacturing business and I go, “Wow, I just really wish I knew then what I knew now.” That’s easy to say and we can all say that, but I just feel like I could have impacted people’s lives in a much more significant way.

Sam Silverstein:
I was working as a consultant, as a speaker, author, speaker, working with companies for 10 years before I realized that everything I did really came down to accountability, but it was still another five years after that before I really discovered what accountability was. I discovered it. I had been saying the right words all along, but I truly did not understand them, and they were not truly in my heart until I came across a bank and did a case study on a bank and ultimately wrote a book about that bank where I saw it in action from the leader of the bank down. I saw what it created in their culture. I saw what it created in their people. I saw what it created on the bottom line and the impact financially they had on everyone that was associated with that bank.

Sam Silverstein:
Through that study, I saw things that I had not really seen before and for me that became transformational.

Mike Domitrz:
It’s a powerful book. I want all of our listeners to be able to look it up. It’s Non Negotiable, is the title of the book. It’s the story of Happy State Bank. It is an incredible book.

Mike Domitrz:
What I love about all your books are… Because other Sam books are No More Excuses, Make Any Accountable Decisions No Matter What, The Lost Commandments and The Success Model, they’re all easy reads. I think that’s so important for people because some people out there go, “I’m not a big reader,” but when you get a book that’s an easy read, it just flies through and you can absorb it in a relatively short period of time too because they are easy reads. You make it easy for people to take skillsets and implement them in their lives, which is just really powerful to relate to them.

Mike Domitrz:
So I recommend for anybody listening-

Sam Silverstein:
Thank you.

Mike Domitrz:
Absolutely. For anybody listening, you want to check it out. Non Negotiable. Super, super powerful, easy read book that makes a big difference out there. Sam, you know how much I love you. So thank you so much for joining us today.

Sam Silverstein:
Well Mike, you know how much I love you and so thank you for the honor of sharing me with people that you value so greatly. That means a lot to me. Of course anytime I can be of service for you or in your friends and the people in your life, then all someone has to do is let me know.

Mike Domitrz:
I love it. Sam’s website. For everyone listening you want to make sure you can find Sam. Iamaccountable.com or Samsilverstein.com. He has a special link there, samsilverstein.com/me so just so you’re aware of that. That’s also out there too, and we have all the other links, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, all on the show notes.

Mike Domitrz:
Listeners, you know what’s next. It is question of the week. Before I answer this week’s question of the week, I’d love to ask you a question.

Mike Domitrz:
Would you please subscribe to this podcast, The Respect Podcast with Mike Domitrz? By subscribing, you can make a huge impact. Now, you might be wondering, Mike, how does my subscribing to your podcast make a huge impact? Well, here’s how. For every person that subscribes, it raises the rankings of the show in the search engines. So for people who care about respect like yourself, when they’re doing a search for podcasts, they’re more likely to find this show. Thus providing an awesome opportunity for us to spread more respect around this world and all you do is hit subscribe under your podcast.

Mike Domitrz:
Plus, the second benefit is by subscribing, you automatically get every episode right into your phone or whatever device you’re listening to the podcast on. It happens automatically, so subscribing also makes your life easier.

Mike Domitrz:
Now, let’s get into this week’s question of the week. Oh, and by the way, you can always ask your questions of the week by joining us on Facebook in our discussion group. It’s called the Respect Podcast Discussion group. Go there on Facebook and ask whatever questions you would like me to answer and/or address in this segment of the show, and then listen to each episode to find out when your question is included.

Mike Domitrz:
Today’s question is, “Mike, what about when companies have core values that they don’t actually live by?” Well, let’s dive right into this one because this one is incredibly common. I was just talking with a friend recently that said, “Hey, I was talking to our leadership and I said, ‘Look, this one core value you have in here, we clearly don’t live by it because of some things that we do and practices we have in this business. Why don’t you actually just take the core value out of our core values?'” And so we were having this conversation.

Mike Domitrz:
So I was talking to another friend of mine who is the foremost expert in the world on accountability, and he said, “Yeah, Mike, because…” And that’s Sam Silverstein. If you want to look up Sam, Sam’s an amazing genius, brilliant person. Sam was saying, “Yeah, Mike because then the company are just liars,” and that’s a very powerful statement, but it’s true.

Mike Domitrz:
If you have a core value in your organization that you’re not living by then you are failing to respect the values by which you say your organization is founded on. Therefore you’re lying that it’s a core value. You’d be much more honest and way more respectful to just remove that core value from your list. Have that one less core value unless there’s multiple core values you’re not living by but you need to remove them so your true core values are being respected and honored and lived by throughout the organization.

Mike Domitrz:
Do you know what I would love? I would love to hear your answer to this week’s question of the week. So would you please answer what your answer would have been if you were asked that question today on the show.

Mike Domitrz:
All you do is go to our Facebook page. We have a special group where we have these discussions called the Respect Podcast Discussion group, so the Respect Podcast Discussion group and share with us what would your answer have been to this week’s question of the week. And if you take a moment, post us a new question for future episodes. What question would you like to hear me answer on an upcoming episode? That’s all done on Facebook in our special group, which is the Respect Podcast Discussion group. Can’t wait to see you there.

Mike Domitrz:
Thank you for joining us in this episode of The Respect Podcast, exploring work, love and life. This episode, like every episode is brought to you by our organization, the Center for Respect, which you can find at centerforrespect.com. Of course you can find me your host, Mike Domitrz at mikespeaks.com. Thank you so much for joining us.

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on pocket
Pocket
Share on email
Email

We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website, you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy.