Summary Written by Peter Taylor
"People do their best work, when they know they’re going to be given credit for their contribution. So there has to be certain amount of autonomy in people's work so they can contribute without reservation."

- Accountability, page 23

The Big Idea

The seven words you should never say

"If you are serious about improvement you must be committed to consider new ways of running your business. Do not change your principles. You must however, be willing to look critically at changing your practices—your business proposition, your programs, your people—to evolve and propel your organisation to the next level of success."- Accountability, page 242

Customers’ needs are rapidly changing, particularly in today’s climate and as a leader you must be always evolving. Change is probably one of the most difficult procedures to implement and it takes courage, conviction and clarity in communication. Business tends to ignore the human elements that accompany change including emotional complexities, behavioural resistance and diversity of perspective.

Planning is paramount to change, either to make improvements or to continue things that are working or alternatively to eliminate things that are not working.

The seven words you should not use if you want to evolve are: “We have always done it this way.”

On the flip side of these seven words is the negative statement “We’ve never done that before,” which will also kill efforts to adapt and renew performance. Words matter, so use them wisely.

To evolve, remember the following:

  • Dig for gold versus spotting mistakes.
  • Look outside your industry for inspiration.
  • Eliminate the seven words, always/never done that.
  • Constantly ask questions.

You have a clear choice, to continue as you have done or to invest in learning to address change.

Insight #1


"Are you really, truly committed to your people? I don't think you can hold yourself out as having that commitment unless you sustain training over time, especially in challenging times."- Accountability, page 128

Top performers want to improve. Continually ask: What’s working, what’s not, and how can I help?

Bustin discusses a program designed to implement training within organisations designed around the following principles:

  • The principle of influence. Encourage the mantra that not everyone can be the leader but everyone can be a leader. Robin Sharma’s The Leader Who Had No Title comes to mind.
  • The principle of others. Get to know your employees by name, trust everyone to be worthy of your best.
  • The principle of vision. Become the chief encouragement officer.
  • The principle of positivity. Remain positive despite circumstances.
  • The principle of mission. Live a life with integrity and with an emphasis on relationships.

To grow your business you must grow your people. The gap that you and they are facing often is not a skill gap, it’s a leadership gap. Skilled and talented leaders often lack vision, confidence, interpersonal dexterity and judgement and your most important asset, your people.

Re-examine your assets, time, energy, and invest in your people’s training; not being proactive with training can cost a fortune. Let employees own their careers.

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Insight #2

SWAT Analysis

"The beauty of the process is that value is received by the CEO being SWATed as well as members of the SWAT team who are making the visit."- Accountability, page 270

To minimize surprises within companies, Bustin suggests incorporating a SWAT analysis. The term is borrowed from the military term, “special weapons and tactics unit” as opposed to a SWOT analysis.

Have CEO’s from non-competing companies visit your organisation and meet privately with your employees without the boss being present. Based on their responses to questions they receive, the SWAT team report back to the CEO with their recommendations.

The benefits of the SWAT team are:

  • Increased knowledge and group bonding
  • Team learning
  • Uncovering hidden issues
  • Sharper focus on hidden issues
  • Higher levels of accountability

The process is mutually beneficial. CEO’s pick up new ideas and new approaches, as well as gaining a better understanding of where their employee’s engagement lies.

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Greg Bustin

Greg Bustin is a business and leadership consultant, an international speaker, and a Master Chair for Vistage International, the world’s largest CEO membership organization. He writes a monthly bulletin sent to more than 5,000 executives globally and regularly speaks at events in the United States, Canada, Australia, and the UK. His perspective on leadership has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, the Dallas Morning News, and other major publications.

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