The OZ Principle

Summary Written by Justin Gasbarre

The Big Idea

Getting Above the Line

"Accountability for results rests at the very core of the continuous improvement, innovation, customer satisfaction, team performance, talent development and corporate governance movements so popular today."- The OZ Principle, page 14

You’ll see “Above the Line” a lot throughout the book. This is simply the standard of accountability that you and your organization must consistently strive for to achieve the results that you are after. The “Above the Line” steps to accountability are See It, Own It, Solve It, and Do It. To further explain these:

  • See It: Involves recognizing and acknowledging the full reality of the situation. (The Lion: Mustering the Courage to See It).
  • Own It: Accepting responsibility for the experiences and realities you create for yourself and others. (The Tin Woodsman: Finding the Heart to Own It).
  • Solve It: Entails changing reality by finding and implementing solutions to problems that you may not have thought of before. (The Scarecrow: Obtaining the Wisdom to Solve It).
  • Do It: Mustering the commitment and courage to follow through with the solutions you’ve identified. (Dorothy: Exercising the Means to Do It).

“Regardless of the situations, you cannot even begin to turn things around until you take charge of your circumstances and accept your own responsibility for better results in the future,” write the authors. Creating a focused discipline for oneself and a team is difficult, no doubt, but following the See It, Own It, Solve It, Do It model provides us with steps to follow to bring ourselves and our teams “Above the Line” to get results through increased accountability.

Insight #1

Accountability and Joint Accountability

"When everyone is accountable for achieving organizational results, and not just doing her job, the right things tend to happen."- The OZ Principle, page 55

The authors’ define accountability as “A personal choice to rise above one’s circumstances and demonstrate the ownership necessary for achieving desired results – to See It, Own It, Solve It and Do It. The definition includes a mind-set or attitude of continually asking, ‘What else can I do to rise above my circumstances and achieve the results I desire?’”

I love this. Ultimately, it is up to us as individuals to make a decision and accept ownership of the situations that we find ourselves in. Once we do that, we can then take the steps necessary to course correct where we want/need to go.

Secondly, let’s briefly explore The OZ Principle’s definition of joint accountability. Joint accountability emphasizes the fact that accountability works best when people share ownership for circumstances and results. This thinking comes into play when looking at accountability as a leader or from an organizational perspective.

“Organizational results come from a collective, not individual, activity,” write the authors. “When an organization fails to perform well, it represents, ultimately, a collective or shared failure. A complete understanding of accountability in organizations must include the principle of joint accountability.” Having this understanding and mindset within a team or an organization helps to eliminate the blame game mentality that is so common. Once it’s understood that everyone on the team and within the organization is responsible to pull their weight, the more we’re able to hold everyone accountable to achieving the desired results.

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Insight #2

Holding People Accountable

"You can’t create accountability without clearly defining results."- The OZ Principle, page 191

Such a critical component of holding people accountable is for them to have the clear understanding of what it is that they are (specifically) responsible for and expected to produce. This can be often overlooked when it comes to leadership. Not communicating expectations can lead to people making their own assumptions of what they should be producing, leaving open the potential for misalignment around expectations. Guidelines for holding people accountable The OZ Principle Way are:

  • Define the Result (What “Rings The Bell?”).
  • Determine time to report on progress (What Progress Has Been Made?).
  • Deliver praise or coaching (“Well done!” Or “What Else Can You Do?”).

These three guidelines are simple, straight forward and are a great tool for any level of leader to follow to ensure that they are communicating expectations to their teams. Ultimately, as leaders we’re responsible for driving results and these outlined processes will help you to do so!

The authors remind us that “only when you assume full accountability for your thoughts, feelings, actions, and results can you direct your own destiny; otherwise someone or something else will.”

Read the book

Get The OZ Principle on Amazon.

Craig Hickman

Craig Hickman is a New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen books, among them such international bestsellers as The Oz Principle, Creating Excellence, Mind of a Manager Soul of a Leader, and The Strategy Game. Currently, he is Author & Regional Vice President at Partners In Leadership, the premier provider of Accountability Training® services around the world. Clients include thousands of companies (almost half of the Dow Jones Industrial Average Companies) in more than 50 countries. Prior to Partners in Leadership, he was a company CEO at Headwaters Incorporated (NYSE:HW), where he turned around the struggling specialty chemicals division and formed a joint venture with Evonik Degussa GmbH, a Fortune Global 500 company headquartered in Frankfurt and Essen, Germany. Before that, he founded Management Perspectives Group, a management consulting firm specializing in strategic change, organizational culture transformation, and leadership development, which he later sold to SMS, Inc. A compelling and thought-provoking speaker, Craig has facilitated change in corporations and organizations around the world, lecturing abroad for the U.S. State Department, providing voluntary leadership development services in Brazil, and serving as a member of the board of directors for several companies. He earned his MBA with honors from the Harvard Business School. He and his wife, Laura, live in Chicago.

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