Becoming an Accountable Leader

September 11, 2017 Maria Abbe

In this podcast, we're joined by Lorraine Moore, speaker, author, and president of Accelerate Success Group where she advises executives on culture, industry disruption, and leadership, among many other crucial topics. She uncovers why creating a culture of accountability is more important than ever before and how leaders can create an environment that encourages accountability. You'll learn how to become a stronger leader and foster a workplace that's empowering.

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Helpful Information

Jim Young LinkedIn

Lorraine Moore LinkedIn

Feet to the Fire: How to Exemplify an Create the Accountability that Creates Great Companies

Accelerate Success Group website

Podcast Transcript

Jim Young: Hi, and welcome to the Purposeful Banker, the podcast brought to you by Precision Lender, where we discuss the big topics on the minds of today's best bankers. I'm your host, Jim Young, Director of Communications at Precision Lender. Thanks for joining us.
The topic of today's podcast is accountability, which our guest, Lorraine Moore knows a thing or two about. So much, in fact that she wrote a book about it. Lorraine is a former, senior bank executive, and is now the president of Accelerate Success Group, where she advises CEO's and Executives, on organizing culture, industry disruption, leadership transformation, talent management, and business challenges. She's also a public speaker, and the author of the book, Feet To The Fire, How to Exemplify and create the accountability that creates great companies.
That's the book we'll be talking about today. Lorraine's next book, 360 Degree CEO, will be out in the next few months. Course the thing we're selfishly, most excited about her, is that Lorraine will be speaking at Bank on Purpose next year. She was recommended to us by Lisa McCloud, who many of you may recall has spoken at each of the first, Bank on Purpose conferences. Needless to say, we can't wait to hear what Lorraine has to share with us today, and we're excited to have her on. Welcome Lorraine.
Lorraine Moore: Welcome Jim. It's a pleasure to speak with you today. I'm really looking forward to your third annual, Bank on Purpose conference next April.
Jim Young: Lorraine, to get us kind of kicked off, we gave a little bit of background. Can you give us a little bit more insight into your background?
Lorraine Moore: Yes. Absolutely. I was over 20 years with TD Bank Financial group, which is a large, North American bank, that I'm sure many of your audience will be familiar with. They have Ameritrade, as well TD Bank in the US. During my tenure there, I worked in every line of business across the bank, and in a variety of senior, executive roles. It was a tremendous experience, and my heart ... I still have a heart attachment to banking, which is part of the reason I'm looking so forward to your conference.
Subsequently, to that, I worked for Trans Canada, which some of you may be familiar from the infamous Keystone Pipeline. I was actually part of the executive team that implemented the first successful leg of Keystone. I worked at Trans Canada for six years, in a variety of executive roles, including strategy, regulatory relations, government affairs, and asset management. And then, took what I learned from my diverse experience to help companies be successful across the globe.
Jim Young: Well, wow. Given that sort of, really diverse and deep background in a lot of different areas, obviously you've seen a lot, when it comes to leadership in companies. In your latest book, Feet To The Fire, How to Exemplify and Create the Accountability That Creates Great Companies. You talk about changes coming across all industries, and how that will affect business leaders. Can you take us through, maybe some of the most prominent of those changes?
Lorraine Moore: Yes. There really are a number of changes, as you said, that are affecting leaders. And, some of the ones that are top of mind, with executives that I'm working with ... I see one, certainly, is automation. The pace of technology and automation and the influence of artificial intelligence is gonna dramatically change our work environments. It's going to change job requirements, and it's going to change how our customers and consumers look to utilize our services, so ... That's certainly one.
Another is privacy, and kind of accompanying that is litigation. As recently as today, in the headlines, Equifax has been hacked. It's affected millions of users, and you know, Equifax obviously has a great deal of financial information, not just about people's banking information, but all of their credit rating history, et cetera.
Privacy, as we have access to, and as consumers, and organizations, demand and want more and more data, and more and more information. The privacy issues are just going to continue and then you know, we're all at risk for ... We all have liability and we're at risk for litigation.
I think one of the final, one of the other trends that I'm seeing is, a decline in customer loyalty. There's this ironic change that's happening, really across the globe in which people will identify a greater level of trust in something like Airbnb, or something where they feel it's a consumer-to-consumer service, that it's a person on the street, it's somebody like them, a much greater level of trust in that example, than in comparison to the Four Seasons Hotel, because well, they're a big hotel chain and they're just trying to make profits, and that kind of thing. That decline in customer loyalty, and for bankers, the view that our services and our products are commodities, that's a continuing trend that is affecting banking in many retail industries.
Jim Young: So, obviously, if you're a leader, there's a lot to unpack there. Particularly as you mentioned, from a bank perspective, you're dealing with this customer loyalty issues, maybe some perception is that you're an institution at a time when they want more of a personal relationship.
They want you to know more about them, and they're willing to share information, but they want that information protected, so there's a whole lot of weighing on the shoulders of leaders. What are some things they can do to, you know, basically prepare and survive and thrive in these times?
Lorraine Moore: I would say, in terms of thriving and surviving as a leader, in any kind of turbulent times ... One is participating in professional development, like listening to this podcast, like your conference next year, which is so valuable. Continuing to ... Because it's so easy, well not easy. Because there's so many demands on leaders, and there's so much coming at them every day, it can be difficult to elevate ourselves, and lift our heads out of our day-to-day, or out of our actual organizational demands, to reflect and to engage in professional development, and engage with conversations with colleagues, both within our industries, and outside.
Ensuring that every month, and every year, your professional development need not be time consuming, but so that you are hearing about trends, you're hearing ideas of what people are doing in other industries, and you're continually honing your skills, so that if your industry, or your organization is greatly disrupted, you have continued to grow and become an even better and better leader over time.
Another is, as it relates to employees. So, during turbulent times, there's a lot of ... I mean, as you talked about ... There's a whole lot, just on those issues that identified for leaders to unpack and understand. There's also a lot for their employees, and their direct reports to deal with.
One of the things that's important, when we're distracted by all of the things that are coming at us, is to make sure that we're staying close to our best performers. Staying close to the people that are the high potential employees and are likely successors. Those best performing employees, interestingly are sometimes our most insecure individuals. They're insecure about themselves, and their capabilities. They worry, and that's part of why they're such great performers. In the absence of reinforcement, that we see their skills, we see their capabilities, we have their best interests at heart, that there's a career progression, and path for them. Those are the individuals that will be actively looking in using social media, and talking to their network about other opportunities. You can't stay close to everybody all the time, but staying close to your best performers is really important.
This one is gonna sound like it's motherhood but, eating well, getting enough sleep, exercising, taking your holidays. I'm near completion on my second book called, The 360 Degree CEO. I interviewed CEO's from across North America. One of the things that came across was, when they aren't taking care of themselves, when they aren't eating well, because they're in restaurants and working long hours, when they're not getting enough sleep, when they're not taking holidays. Their resilience declines. Their tolerance declines, so they don't have as much patience for family, friends, but as well, certainly within the office. And so, really taking care of ourselves, putting our own oxygen mask on first, is really important, so that we can be there to be the role model for others.
I think the last thing is, understanding that there is so much coming at us, in social media and 24/7 nature of technology has made that even more challenging, that ... Jim Collins once said, "If you have more than three priorities, you don't have priorities. You just have a long list of items." Regularly considering, what are your most important priorities? What are the things that require your attention? What are the 20% of the items, that if you attend to, will contribute to 80% of the results. And, doing whatever you can, putting the structure in place, putting accountability partners in place to help you stay true to those most important priorities, and keep your employees focused on those most important priorities as well.
Jim Young: You went through a really ... That's a very comprehensive list of a lot of things that leaders need to be doing. You talked about prioritizing things. The thing that you focused on in your book though, is accountability. Why is that sort of, out of all those things, that leaders need to do, or need to focus on ... Why did you decide to make accountability the focus of your book?
Lorraine Moore: Yeah. That's a great question Jim. Because, I found that it was a universal issue. I found that, whether someone was running a 10 million dollar organization, or 100 billion dollar organization, or divisions within 100 billion dollar organization, consistently the leaders wanted to create a greater culture of accountability, but they didn't know how to do it in a way that would not be perceived as micromanagement, and in a way that was not more labor intensive, and was not creating more work. They knew that accountability was key to health and safety, to performance, to the quality, and delivery of products and services, to performance management, et cetera, so ...
I realized that, while there was a great desire to generate more accountability, there was not an understanding of how to do it. And so, I thought, "Okay, this is something I know how to do, and I can share with other's so that they can do it and realize that it's not as onerous and labor intensive as they think it is, and it will make a profound effect across the organization."
Jim Young: Before we get into a little bit of the, how to ... I'm still a little bit curious about the, who to, I guess in this. If I'm a leader, and particularly have a publicly traded company, who am I more accountable to, or accountable to first? Is it shareholders? Is it my employees? Is it the customers?
Lorraine Moore: Yeah. That's a great question. In the US, when you're a publicly traded company ... Certainly, if you're on the board, as a director, your responsibility is first, to the shareholders. But, in what you're saying, when you're a leader, clearly you have a 360 degree level of accountability. You have those three pillars. You have accountability to the shareholders, certainly, to your customers, and to your employees. What I really talk about in my book, is how do you, first create, how do you hold yourself accountable? What I mean by that is, how do you ensure that people can rely on you, that you will do what you said you would, that you following through on your commitments, that you're not letting yourself off the hook. And by virtue of doing that, then you are fulfilling your responsibility to all of those other shareholders.
And then, secondly, how do you ensure that, throughout your organization, the people that report to you, and the people that report to them, that you're not letting them off the hook, and that they're not being let off the hook. How do you ... It's really about ensuring that everyone understands that there will be follow-through, there will be consequences, there is an expectation, that people will behave with integrity at all times, which really is what accountability fosters, and feeds.
Jim Young: I may be mixing things a little bit here, but is there a danger, if I'm trying to really foster that accountability in my company that I might come across as micromanaging, or not empowering people? Or, are those two ... Is that apples and oranges?
Lorraine Moore: No. It's not apples and oranges, and that's always the biggest concern, is how to do it. And so, in the discussion at the conference, in my presentation at the conference, I'm going to provide people with some tools that they can use, and they're also in my book, and people will be getting copies of my book. They will see how my whole premise and what I teach leaders how to do, as it relates to accountability, is, we create structure, and we create a process that in one hour a month, of a meeting with each of your director ports, so ... Whoever's reporting to you directly, and you cascade that through the organization.
In as little as one hour month, you can have a structured conversation, and record and document commitments, and plans in a way that creates a culture of accountability. That's not micromanaging. It frees people up from the multiple conversations about, "What's the status of that? Where is that? You told me three times that was gonna be done. Where is it?" It empowers the employee, as people will see in the process next August, because the employee is contributing the direct report, whether they're an executive vice president, or they're someone on the front line, reporting to a supervisor, they're an active participant in creating this accountability, and making their commitments.
Jim Young: Already giving us a sneak preview of what you'll be speaking about next April. I can't wait to hear it. One more question. When it comes to accountability, is there one kind of, common mistake you see business leaders make?
Lorraine Moore: Yeah. It's broader than the accountability, but it's related, and that is ... I still, as recently as yesterday, in a conversation with one of my CEO clients, I say, hire slower and fire faster. It's not quite as simple as that, but that's easy for people to remember, because what I see so frequently Jim, is that we delay and we postpone, having the crucial conversations, the really honest conversations with people about the gap between, what we expect from their performance, and their delivery of that performance.
We're more likely to do it, to hold those conversations, when we have data, when it's anecdotal. You're sales results aren't what they should be. We're not receiving the return on investment from this acquisition we expected. But, when it's behavioral, when it's the way people are, if they're behaving disrespectfully, if they're not honoring their commitments, et cetera, those behavioral gaps in performance, CEOs are slower and leaders are slower to have those conversations.
Often there's a litany of reasons why. They'll say to me, that they haven't taken more affirmative action. "They're only a few years from retirement Lorraine. They're really great. They worked with me for 20 years." There's always all kinds of rationale, but ... And it's not that you have to move to firing people, but we need to be honest with people sooner, about where they're not measuring up, and give them the support and the opportunity to improve. That's the thing that I still coach, or advise executives on, most frequently.
Jim Young: Absolutely. It's great stuff. Well, we're gonna stop there for now, and encourage you to check out more from Lorraine, during the Bank On Purpose webinar series, which actually be next week, September 19th and 20th. And of course, as we mentioned, you can hear even more from Lorraine, at the Bank On Purpose conference next year. The dates for that are, April 25th through the 27th. We will be back in Austin, Texas again. Lorraine, thank you so much for coming on.
Lorraine Moore: My pleasure. I enjoyed it, and I really look forward to meeting and reacquainting with banking colleagues in the US, in Austin, in April.
Jim Young: Absolutely. Thanks to all of you for taking the time to listen. If you like what you've been hearing, make sure to subscribe to the feed in iTunes, SoundCloud, Google play, or Stitcher. We love to get ratings and feedback on any of those platforms. You can always find more episodes, as well as our show notes in the resource center on our website. Thanks for listening. Until next time, I'm Jim Young, for Lorraine Moore. You've been listening to Purposeful Banker podcast.

About the Author

Maria Abbe

As a Content Manager here at PrecisionLender, Maria develops the messaging, stories and content pieces for prospects and current clients – showing them the value in PrecisionLender. Her passion for serving others is evident as she leads the volunteer program here at PrecisionLender. Maria’s ability to be organized and constructive, along with her ability to be practical makes her an exceptional addition to our team.

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