Holding yourself to account

We have run numerous meetings, programmes and workshops with business owners and we are consistently amazed by how much they value the time away from the business. They enjoy spending time with like-minded people that challenge their thinking and give them the opportunity to work on the business.

A more longitudinal study of processes of this type might also reveal how the conversations shift in energy from the initial generation of thoughts, ideas and actions to the challenges laid down to report on the actions that were previously discussed or agreed. “Last time we spoke about this you said you were going to …… what happened?” In some cases, there is follow through and tangible business impact, in others there is not.

And herein, lays a particular challenge for the ambitious owner manager – how do “people with a large need for autonomy and control”, who typically hate being told what to do, hold themselves to account and keep themselves honest for their actions?

Now, this is not to say that business owners and entrepreneurs are a dishonest bunch. It is more to say that a CEO of a large corporate is supposedly held accountable by a board and investors, whereas, the business owner often is the board, the management and the majority shareholder. So there seems a need to ask the question “what is your framework of accountability – board, trustees, mentor/coach, non exec?”

We know that this is important stuff …

“Your governance structure can inhibit or enable long-term success”
“Defining your constitution and mandate are important”
“I needed more structured learning and business advice for myself earlier on”

…difficult stuff …

“I spent lots of money on lawyers for a written constitution and didn’t really end up with what I needed for the business “
“I’d find more support for start up organisations – Business Link were laughable”
“Finding the right support for the evolving needs of my business and for me is a real minefield – where do I start?”
“I needed something to help me make sense of the various advice and support that I was being given from an accountant or from a solicitor – they simply didn’t ask me the right questions”
“There are a variety of business models and one size fits all support simply does not work”

…and some people find a way to do it.

“I’m part of a small network of business owners who meet once a month, they are like my non-executive directors, justifying my plans and actions (or lack of) to them can be a challenging experience”
“For years we have struggled to articulate and write down the founding principles of the business, now that we have managed to do so we have a strong framework for taking the business forward”
“I was challenged by my coach to write a business plan, we meet regularly to see how it is going. To begin with I resisted the process but I am starting to see the benefits of such an approach”
“With a proper management team and strategic plan in place we are finding new ways to use our meetings to keep ourselves on track. Keeping on top of this process is paramount to our success but it is challenging to maintain”
“Appointing a non-executive Chair was a difficult decision for me. I mean how do you recruit your own boss? It has taken a while to understand how to derive value from the process but it is starting to reap rewards”.

So the final questions we ask are:

  • What needs to be in place for you to be held accountable?
  • What challenge and support do you need to keep true to your purpose and values?
  • Who is challenging you to drive the business forward?
  • Who keeps you honest for your actions?
  • How is your ownership structure supporting or inhibiting your growth?
  • How will the next leader(s) of your business be held to account and kept honest?

Find out what other business owners said at one of our Compass Meetings on this very topic.

Compass Meeting # 5 Holding yourself to account – outputs from discussion

About adampscampbell
Passionate about helping ambitious business owners to create sustainable success. For information on our work with our broader client base please feel free to look at the website www.telospartners.com To connect more with our work with ambitious business owners follow me @adampscampbell or connect at http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=870168

2 Responses to Holding yourself to account

  1. Pingback: Creating sustainable success for ambitious business owners « Telos Partners

  2. Pingback: Holding yourself to account | Telos Partners

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