Many leadership programs have executive role models share how they lead. I have been fortunate to facilitate many such forums in my career. During one of these sessions one of the most admired and effective leaders at a Fortune 100 company shared his secret to achieving both engagement and accountability. He said that he constantly asked himself “Is my behavior getting the results I intend?" He emphasized this went beyond business results, as he specifically sought to understand the results in terms of his team's motivation and engagement. He was vigilant in getting and acting on any feedback he received to ensure his intention for his behavior and the perception of it was aligned so he could achieve his intended results.
It takes courage to find out if your behavior, as seen by your team, matches your intention in both results and style. It takes commitment and tenacity to change it if it does not.
One way I learned this was not in business but riding the trails with my horse Echo. My intention when riding Echo is to enjoy our interaction and have a great outdoor experience together. At times I would get so busy getting Echo to go in the trailer, telling him what to do and where to go, and fending off horseflies that I did not meet his needs for interaction, direction and support. If my intention was is not met Echo was not excited to go trail riding again any time soon. My behavior clearly did not produce my desired results. Using Echo's feedback I learned to provide the direction and support Echo needed while staying on task with a discerning, and empathetic eye. How we ride the trail may be different than I plan, but most days I achieve the results I intend and we both enjoy the ride. Applying this insight to my leadership back on the job was a game-changer for my team.