Aspirations without Accountability leads to blame and finger pointing
My wife sometimes calls me a dreamer. Typically, this is right after I describe some outlandish idea I have about creating a backyard that would make the designers at HGTV drool. Or, she might say that after my idea of taking all seven of our grandchildren on a trip to every baseball stadium in America next summer. She has that knack of quickly pulling me back to earth with her practicality. A simple, “Can you tell me a little bit more about exactly how we would make that happen and who would do it?” Her simple question of accountability puts an arrow in the heart of my aspirational dream.
Aspirations are easy. It is easy to declare, “By this time next year, I/we will be the best at ____________.” Or, “Your goal for this year will be zero downtime and zero material loss.” OK, easy to say, but nearly impossible to do. One of my personal favorite quotes is:
“Anything is possible if you don’t have to do it yourself.”
However, when an aspiration is given without accountability (that is, without resources, budget, support, leadership, technology, etc.), the end result is not usually very pretty. An aspiration without accountability typically leads to someone asking, “Why didn’t you achieve my aspiration? Who is to blame or is at fault? Didn’t you understand what I requested? What is the root cause for your failure?” You get the picture. It is easy to set a high bar of achievement, but we must be practical about what it will take to attain it. There must be buy in or joint accountability for the result.
So, it is great to be a dreamer as an individual, but you need a dose of practicality lest you make a mess of your backyard. And, as a leader, establishing aspirational goals is terrific… provided you include yourself and the resources you can bring to the table as partners in the effort.
Have a terrific day!