Can We Hold Someone to Account and Still “Be For” Them?
Every now and then, I hear a comment like, “My teammates aren’t holding each other to account because they don’t know how to hold someone to account and ‘be for’ them at the same time.” Hmm, now I find that to be a very interesting comment, and it’s a comment that is worthy of real curiosity and exploration. It’s so easy to react to a comment like that and come back with an immediate answer. Far more useful, if you find yourself or a colleague making a comment too, to explore deeply, what is really–what am I really saying here. I would, though, like to make two points to inform the conversation and also a little sidebar.
Being For Each Other Means Supporting Each Other’s Success
The first point is that Being For, which if one of the core practices of The Collaborative Way®–one of the essential elements, parts, expressions of being for each other is to support each other’s success. So, if one of my teammates is struggling to honor their commitments or keep their commitments, then, if I’m going to practice Being For, then what it requires of me is to actually support them in keeping their commitment–actually requires of me to have a straight conversation with them, to listen generously and find out what’s going on, and work together to find a way to support them in fulfilling on their commitments. I am in no way supporting their success if I avoid having the difficult conversation out of some kind of concern, say that, you know, “They’ll get upset,” or something like that. That’s to totally misunderstand Being For. Being For isn’t about, let’s all keep our relationship real superficial, be real nice to each other, and kind of have a superficial, go-along, get happy kind of relationship. No, it’s something much deeper than that. It’s about truly being for each other’s success, appreciating each other as a human being, and actually having these kind of conversations, and being willing to take the risk of there being upset or misunderstanding, and then care for that upset or misunderstanding so as to support what we’re up to. Because each of these practices, when appropriately or accurately understood, are practices that contribute to accomplishing what we’re up to. And it surely doesn’t contribute to what we’re up to to not support people in keeping their commitments, follow up on commitments that haven’t been kept, address supporting people around commitments that you’re concerned might not be kept. These are all practices in Honoring Commitments, and they’re all expressions of Being For Each Other.
Demeaning and Attacking Someone Is Not Being For Them
Now, the little sidebar I’d like to mention is that sometimes, we call–we think of–holding somebody to account as throwing a big hissy fit, getting all upset, getting angry, really, you know, demeaning or attacking that person, or really, really being very confrontational. And that’s not what I call–or we call–Being For Each Other or even Honoring Commitments and supporting people in fulfilling their commitments. That has very limited positive effects when you throw a fit like that. It might feel pretty good in the moment, but also, fewer and fewer people in the workforce today are willing to take that kind of interaction. Some of us older, like me, we put up with a bunch of that, but less people are willing to these days, and they disengage. They either disengage by leaving, or they disengage by just disconnecting their spirit from the game while continuing to collect a paycheck. So, that’s not what we’re talking about. That’s not Being For Each Other.
This Is An Invitation to Leadership
The second point is: If I have a teammate who is struggling in holding somebody to account, then it’s on me, if I’m for them, to support them in actually getting good at holding others to account. If I am over here and allow myself to be at the effect of that or complain about it or get judgemental about it, then I’m out of the practice myself. If this really is the case that they’re is–people are struggling with holding to account and using Being For as a reason, wow, this is a great learning opportunity. This is a chance for me to step forward. This is a real invitation to my leadership to step forward and support the success of this person and support the success of what we’re up to together.