"I'm happy for the players; I didn't do this," he said. "All I did was create an atmosphere of accountability. When you see something done the wrong way, you say, 'Hey, that ain't good enough.' And after a while you get the players to do that for each other. It's about helping them take ownership of their own team." – Buck Showalter

"You reward performance and develop potential! You do NOT reward potential!" – Bill Parcells

In a lot of organizations, NOT achieving planned results plus a good excuse is as acceptable as achieving planned results. You didn't hit your sales plan; no problem, you worked hard and really tried. Your team is dispirited and your turnover rate is high; they've been working too hard. It CAN'T be your leadership performance that's the problem!

We invoke the word "accountability" to connote a tough-minded approach, but without teeth, it's just an empty buzzword. A successful leader understands that accountability is about consequences. When someone on his team performs exceptionally along planned dimensions and in a quantifiable way, her rewards are plentiful. When someone performs less well, her rewards are less plentiful. When someone performs anemically, her rewards follow suit. When someone is "mailing it in," she gets shipped out!

Great leaders combine high expectations, positive and unbridled support, and a raging impatience with poor performance. If you report to one of these people, you know that your rewards will coincide with your contribution, and that today’s superior performance will be tomorrow's performance expectation.

Exhibit A this month, Buck Showalter, comes from the world of sports. He's an extremely successful baseball manager and coach who abundantly demonstrates the attributes of great leadership.

Buck Showalter's Leadership Lessons

As the manager of the Baltimore Orioles, Buck has taken a team that hasn't made Major League Baseballs annual playoffs in 15 years to the verge of making it this year. Before he arrived in 2011, the Orioles had a winning percentage of .305. After his arrival, they won 56.9 percent of their games. Same team; same guys. He did likewise at other stops during his career. In his second full year as Manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks, he led a 35 game improvement. In 2004, his second full year leading the Texas Rangers, they improved by 18 games, and he was named American League Manager of the Year. This year and as I write this column, the Orioles are on the verge of making the playoffs and are challenging the Yankees for their Divisional lead. Buck carries a black notebook everywhere he goes. In it are the lessons he learned during his first (partial) year as the team's skipper.

What follows are quotes from Buck and about Buck that illustrate his beliefs and, more importantly, his actions. Lots of leaders ESPOUSE accountability; very few actually "walk the talk."

On teaching: "This time of the year (spring training) and the post-season are the best times of the year. It's teaching; we're going to go over this today. This is important; trust me. It will be the difference in winning or losing a game."

Implications for you: Buck knows that teaching is an integral part of his job as a leader. He doesn't delegate his personal accountability and responsibility to teach. He knows that it makes a difference. How about you?

Buck also understands that even in a 162 game season, every game counts. He brings a "do the small things – the basic things – right every day" demeanor and expectation to his team. The results speak for themselves.

On intelligence and performance: Buck often invokes a quote from the late Rangers/Twins/Yankees manager Billy Martin: "Dumb players will get you fired!" He expects his guys to be intelligent, agile, quick-minded and hungry.

Implications for you: Pay attention to your people's raw material. Anyone who lacks basic intelligence isn't going to gain some simply because he works for you; anyone who lacks basic drive isn't going to develop it just because he works for you; anyone who has little or no discipline, persistence, perseverance or determination will not develop those attributes because of his exposure to you. Your job as a leader is not to rescue people from themselves; it is to create and sustain "conditions of success," that will enable, encourage and expect superior people to perform.

On persistence, perseverance and endurance: "Guys, listen. It's the middle of spring training. The novelty has worn off, and you can't see the finish line. I've been doing this for 20, 30 years. It happens every spring to everybody at some point, but you have to push through it. It's mental and emotional discipline."

Buck understands "mood management." He's in touch with team and individual emotions and their ebb and flow. He shows up every day the same way. He sets an example. He's not afraid to discuss tough issues with his guys in a measured way. He doesn't avoid discussing "the elephant in the room." He NEVER discusses "locker room issues" in public, and he never criticizes a player in the media.

Implications for you: I define discipline as having two dimensions: Discipline is "doing what needs to be done, WHEN it needs to be done, THE WAY it needs to be done … EVERY TIME!" Discipline also requires delaying gratification; in other words, doing the tough work first.

When doing your job, do you tackle tough issues as your first order of business and do it in a measured way? In doing so, do you demonstrate responsible comportment and a control of your impulses? Are you a positive and productive example for your team members along those dimensions?

On attention to detail: "That's six to ten outs a year we save if we do it (his point #5) right. That's 2/10th of a percent of our total outs during a baseball season." Buck believes that the little things mean a lot in three ways. First, there is an absolute benefit to a baseball team in having six to ten fewer outs. Some of those might translate into runs. One run in one game can make the difference between earning a playoff spot or not. Second, when players see the example that he sets, they develop the inclination to attend to the fundamental and foundational aspects of their business to a greater degree. Third, players begin to hold each other accountable for discipline. Buck believes that he's been successful when his players start to manage themselves.

Implications for you: People do not follow orders; they follow examples. Whether it's your children or your team at work, "do as I say, not as I do" is not effective. Your actions will create examples; those examples will establish expectations; those expectations will inspire actions; those actions will morph into behavioral routines; those behavioral routines will become disciplines.

On activity vs. accomplishment: From Orioles all-star center fielder Adam Jones: "He (Buck) likes to win. Too many people around here got used to, and accepted, losing. At the end of the game, if we lost but played good, they were OK with that. He isn't."

Buck understands that you play to win the game. The rewards are tied to whether you win. Legendary football coach Bill Parcells once said, "You are your record." In sports and business, that is absolutely true.

Implications for you: As I said earlier, for many people and companies, the following equation holds true: Not achieving planned results x a good excuse = achieving planned results. Many leaders reward people for "effort."

We are all responsible for our effort, but we should be accountable for achieving planned results. Whether our individual results involve achieving a sales plan, completing projects on time, within budget and at a specified level of quality and performance, rewards should be tied to our accountabilities rather than our responsibilities. Understanding and implementing that concept will be a major determinant of your leadership success.

Copyright 2012 Rand Golletz. All rights reserved.

Author's Bio: 

Rand Golletz is the managing partner of Rand Golletz Performance Systems, a leadership development, executive coaching and consulting firm that works with senior corporate leaders and business owners on a wide range of issues, including interpersonal effectiveness, brand-building, sales management, strategy creation and implementation. For more information and to sign up for Rand's free newsletter, The Real Deal, visit www.randgolletz.com