Accountability

On April 10th Bobby Petrino, still red-faced from road rash and embarrassment, was fired as head football coach at the University of Arkansas. Ten days earlier Petrino had wrecked both his motorcycle and his career while on a drive with his mistress and co-worker, Jessica Dorrell. Petrino, a married father of four, had failed to disclose his affair with Dorrell when she applied for, and later accepted, a job working on his staff.

In addition, Petrino had circumvented university policies to fast-track hiring her. He had requested and received a waiver to bypass a stipulation that open jobs remain vacant for 30 days prior to interviews being conducted. Moreover, unbeknownst to the university, Petrino personally had given a $20,000 gift to Dorrell during her first week on the job so that she could buy a car.

Sadly, Petrino’s crash-and-burn is only the latest in a series of moral breakdowns occurring in college football. Several other prominent programs have suffered leadership failings over the past three years.

Penn State: Longtime head coach Joe Paterno and school president Graham Spanier were fired in November 2011 for their part in covering up the misconduct of former coach and alleged child molester, Jerry Sandusky. The school’s athletic director and one of its vice presidents also resigned as a result of the scandal.

Ohio State: Head coach Jim Tressel was forced to resign in May 2010 after falsely denying his knowledge of improper benefits received by players. Ohio State’s football team has been banned from making a postseason appearance in 2012 as a result of the incident. Additionally, the program is serving a three-year probation.

North Carolina: In March 2012, North Carolina was penalized with a loss of scholarships, placed on three years of probation, and banned for postseason play after violating numerous NCAA rules. The program engaged in academic fraud and one of its coaches allegedly accepted bribes from professional agents. In the scandal’s aftermath, the university fired head coach Butch Davis.

USC: Head coach Pete Carroll resigned in January of 2010 with Southern California’s football program under investigation for having lacked oversight of its student-athletes. In June 2010, the NCAA imposed sanctions which included the loss of thirty scholarships and a two-year postseason ban.

In each of the above situations, coaches and/or administrators abused power for personal and professional benefit. Initially, we might be tempted to stereotype these leaders as unethical egomaniacs obsessed with winning at all costs. However, closer examination would show us a far more complicated picture. Joe Paterno was revered not only for winning football games, but also for the stellar academic record of his players. Butch Davis cleaned up the University of Miami’s tarnished image while coaching there from 1995-2000. Jim Tressel was highly esteemed on account of his personal philanthropy. The point is that some of these men were great leaders, even models of integrity, prior to losing credibility. However, each ultimately lacked something every leader, even the most well-respected, cannot do without: personal accountability.

DEVELOPING PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY

People want to be known as honest, hard-working, trustworthy, and competent; I doubt anyone starts a career intending to lie or cheat their way to the top. However, as leaders we are determined to succeed, and if we’re not careful, our ambition can overshadow our vision of the moral person we aspire to be. We can lose track of who we are as we strive toward what we desire to accomplish. Personal accountability means being answerable to our “better selves” or to the sort of honorable human being we would like to be. Developing personal accountability involves three steps:

1. Distrust Yourself

In my experience, leaders who fail ethically share a common trait: a false sense of security. They believe themselves to be incapable of ruining their lives on account of flawed character. Wise leaders do not trust themselves to do the right thing all of the time. They know that power corrupts, and they’re fully well aware of their fallibility. Don’t presume that you’re too good of a person to have a moral breakdown. Instead, realize that you’re just as vulnerable to ethical missteps as anyone else. Operate under the assumption that you will abuse your influence as a leader unless you intentionally take precautions to guard against the darker side of your ambition.

2. Set Behavioral Boundaries

Leaders are not only accountable for their actions, but also before their actions. Certainly, leaders should be willing to explain their actions after the fact. However, they also must be prudent enough to prevent morally inappropriate courses of action from ever presenting themselves in the first place.

3. Invite Inspection

When leaders do not inspect themselves, people do not respect them. However, moral authority demands more than self-inspection. Accountable leaders give others permission to inspect their behavior; they’re proactively transparent. The more leaders grow in influence, the less likely their teammates are to disagree with their decisions or to question their behavior. People automatically assume a legendary leader will do the right thing.

This article was reprinted from John Maxwell’s Blog.

Advertisements

What is your Financial Strategy?

Is your business doing well? Do you have your finger on the financial “pulse” of your business? Do you have the financial tools to see what it takes to grow your business this year by 30% or 40%?

The fear that many business owners have around financial management is that it is difficult, complicated, mysterious and it’s the accountants job. Wrong!!!

Strategic financial management of your business is relatively straightforward. The challenge is in establishing good systems and procedures for financial reporting.  One of the many reasons that businesses fail is often due to poor accounting practices. In these failed businesses the owners never took the time to regularly track and measure the key numbers in their business.  Contrary to popular belief, financial management does not require a degree in accounting or an MBA.  The basic fundamentals are the same, whether you are Apple or Joe The Plumber.

Starting Point

During the Conception Stage of any new business, owners usually fund their businesses by mixing their personal money with borrowed funds. This is a dangerous practice and one that can cause you to unknowingly “embezzle” from yourself.  To begin with, separate your business funds from your personal funds, and resist the temptation to pay business expenses from anything other than your business account.

Next, spend some time with your accountant or CPA and learn how to properly read your Income Statement.  Then, do a regular and complete analysis of the Income Statement at least monthly. A complete analysis should include a review of all general ledger accounts which support the Income Statement.  Every item in the general ledger should be documented and properly accounted for.  I have found where a general ledger item was documented as  ’Unknown’, or  all the purchases from the company credit card were simply labeled as ’Credit Card’ without documenting each item such as office supplies, computer hardware, etc.

Along with the Income Statement educate yourself on the Cash Flow statement. If you are a cash-based business this might be seem redundant, but for all businesses this is critical. You should know the state of your cash flow at all times, especially when your business is growing– the reason is Growth Eats Cash.

Death and Taxes

Are taxes killing you? Most business owners are not ‘killed’ by paying taxes.  However, it is the unpaid or unfunded taxes that often ’kill’ a business. Avoid the habit of deferring business taxes which could endanger the financial health of your business.

According to financial expert Dave Ramsey, “If you don’t keep up with your taxes, that alone will close you down. If you are in a product business where you collect, and deposit, sales taxes and you “borrow” that (sales tax) money to operate, you will fail. If you have employees and don’t deposit the proper amount withheld from them for taxes, you will fail.

Create a business “tax” account strictly for your quarterly estimates as required by the IRS and other taxes – this can be worth far more than the time and effort it may take.

Know your Numbers

Every business owner should know these critical numbers in their business, and how to forecast and manage these numbers.  Start first with your desired Net Profit  .  .   .

Net Profit

Fixed Costs

Gross Profit

Gross Margin %

Total Revenues

Revenue/Customer

Total Customers

Retained Customers

New Customers

Conversion %

Leads

Optimizing Employee Performance

I have coached a number of companies whereby management is doing everything right– clear vision, core values, mission statement, USP (Unique Sales Proposition), and have clearly branded themselves in their respective market.  The problem is the team members have not bought into these changes.  So, what is the problem?

The foundation for getting your employees to take ownership in the Strategic Plan, is to give them a game worth playing. Please keep in mind that your business certainly is not a game, but nonetheless you must create an environment where people are given the expectation and the understanding that only their personal best is allowed to support the team effort.

It is no longer just a matter of properly motivating and inspiring your people; every game worth playing has to have rules that are designed to help everyone win. So, what are the rules of your game? Does everyone know what the rules are? How do you get everyone to buy into the rules of the game?

Preparations

Without the preparation of clearly defined roles and responsibilities, the rules of the game are never clearly defined. What ultimately happens is that employees make up their own rules, many times not aligned with Strategic Plan. This leads to mismanagement and further miscommunication, and that is a recipe for disaster. What are the necessary steps to avoid the chaos:

1.     Agreements

Managers and employees establish clear agreements for the expectation about the work that is to be done, the quality of the work, and how and when it is to be done. Within the body of these agreements are the Roles and Responsibilities, Accountabilities, Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s), the Systems, and the Work Flow.

Unless these items are clearly defined and clearly documented, you are left managing by abdication. By establishing an environment of Management by Agreement, only then are the standards fully communicated and documented.

2.     Communication

Any and all changes in the Roles and Responsibilities and the Mapped Procedures, occur only after there is mutual agreement between the manager and employee. Agreement needs to be reached about anything that might deviate from the expected results, work, and standards.

3.     Responsibilities

By having an agreement, employees take full responsibility for performing the work and achieving the results as agreed upon. The managers are accountable for providing the employee with the necessary resources, tools, guidance and training to achieving the work.

4.     Changes  

The employee and the manager are accountable for immediate notification for any and all changes or exceptions to the established agreements.

5.     Space

Managers can assume the work is being done as agreed upon, unless notified by the employee. To avoid micro-management of the employees, a mindset change needs to happen to allow employees the space to do their job, with the understanding they know what is expected of them, when it is expected and how it is expected.

6.     ‘Huddles’  

Regular ‘huddles’ are scheduled with the employee and manager to communicate and update the progress of the work and the KPI’s. By regular communication, testing and measuring, only then can you confirm that you are on track with the plan.

7.     No Exceptions

Failure to notify each other of changes, exceptions, or missed due dates is unacceptable. Period. Your management strategy can only be effective if you are willing to hold your employees and your managers accountable for their agreements, and if you are willing to hold yourself accountable to those agreements.

8.     Trust

Relationships built on trust are developed as managers and employees keep their commitments and successful results are achieved. Trust is an ideal to live by, without trust your management strategy cannot work. Find a way to implement these Rules of the Game, and make them rules that you live by in your business. You will find that you start taking huge strides toward consistency in your business and predictable results. You will also go a long way toward creating a company culture that people are attracted to and fulfilled by.

Problems with getting your employees buy-in?

Contact:

Business Coach Sam Stroup

focusedbizsolutions@gmail.com

www.focusedbizsolutions.com

Integrity . . .

This past week while I was in a tire store, I noticed a poster on their wall.  My first thought was, what is this doing in a tire store of all places.  My second thought was, OK I get it, and I accepted that fact that this company is challenging their employees and sharing with their customers their values.

I spoke to the Store Manager, and he made a copy of the poster, which I would like to share with you . . .

Integrity

When you are looking at the characteristics on how to build your personal life, first comes integrity; second, motivation; third, capacity; fourth, understanding; fifth, knowledge; and last and least experience.

Without integrity, motivation is dangerous; without motivation, capacity is impotent; without capacity, understanding is limited; without understanding, knowledge is meaningless; without knowledge, experience is blind.  Experience is easy to provide and quickly put to good use by people with all other qualities.

Make absolute integrity the compass that guides you in everything you do.  And surround yourself with people of flawless integrity.

-Karl Eller

Challenge

So, look at the walls of your office or store, and ask yourself this question . . . What one thing should I convey to my customers/clients that shows my true Core Values to my customers/clients and employees?