Above The Line® or Below The Line®A thin line separates success from failure, the great companies from the ordinary ones. Below The Line lies excuse making, blaming others, confusion, and an attitude of helplessness while Above The Line we find a sense of reality, ownership, commitment, solutions to problems, and determined action. While losers languish Below The Line, preparing stories that explain why past efforts went awry, winners reside Above The Line, empowered by commitment and hard work. The Steps To Accountability Chart helps you visualize the difference between Below The Line victimization and Above The Line accountability.
People and organizations find themselves thinking and behaving Below The Line whenever they consciously or unconsciously avoid accountability for individual or collective results. Stuck in what we call the victim cycle or the blame game, they begin to lose their spirit and resolve until, eventually, they feel completely powerless.
The Price Paid for being Below The Line
- Poor Results.
- Failed Initiatives.
- Missed Targets.
- Poor Morale.
Only by moving Above The Line and taking the Steps To Accountability to See It, Own It, Solve It, and Do It can they become powerful again.
Steps To Accountability®(click the top and bottom of the
chart for more information)
When we operate Above the Line, we take accountability to overcome obstacles and ask, "What else can I do to achieve the result?"
It's not wrong to go Below the Line, it's just human nature. However, the price we pay Below the Line is poor execution, poor performance and poor morale.
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Honest input helps create the accurate picture of reality that lays a perfectly accurate description of reality. You must draw from many other people's perceptions to imbue your reality with the deepest possible understanding of its many hues and shades. Accountable people constantly seek feedback from a wide range of associates, whether it be team members, cross-functional partners, or even outside vendors or suppliers. Remember, other people's perceptions of reality, whether you agree with them or not, always add important nuances to your own perception. The more perspectives you obtain, the more easily you can recognize when you're stuck Below The Line, move Above The Line, and then encourage others to do likewise.
People who own their circumstances never allow the actions of someone or something else to keep them stuck Below The Line. Instead, accountable people accept whatever ways in which their own behavior contributed to the situation and set about overcoming those circumstances, no matter how difficult. The benefits of owning your circumstances more than compensate for the sometimes heart-wrenching effort involved. When you find the heart to own your circumstances, you automatically gain the commitment to overcome and change those circumstances for the better.
The Solve It attitude and behavior stem from continually asking the question, "What else can I do?" By constantly and rigorously asking this question, you avoid slipping back into the victim cycle whenever certain events occur that would otherwise seem to block the road to results. Since solutions to thorny problems often do not readily reveal themselves, you must diligently search for them, but beware of wasting time Below The Line because that will only dull your senses and discourage your imagination from discovering solutions.
The Do It step bestows the full power of accountability that will help you get the individual and organizational results you need. This form of accountability comes after you have progressed through all four steps Above The Line. When you Do It, you stay Above The Line and prevent further ineffective sojourns Below The Line. Do It means that you will follow-through with the plan, implement the strategies, and execute the ideas. By stopping at any step short of Do It, you will never fully achieve a permanent position Above The Line. Any effort that falls short of making it happen and getting it done simply indicates a lack of full acceptance of accountability.
THE 16 ACCOUNTABILITY TRAITS
- Obtaining the perspectives of others.
- Being open and candid in my communication.
- Asking for and offering feedback.
- Hearing the hard things so that I openly see the reality of the situation.
- Being personally invested.
- Learning from both successes and failures.
- Ensuring that my work is aligned with Key Results.
- Acting on the feedback that I receive.
- Constantly asking, “What else can I do?”
- Collaborating across functional boundaries.
- Creatively dealing with obstacles.
- Taking the necessary risks.
- Doing the things I say I’ll do.
- Staying Above The Line by not blaming others.
- Tracking progress with proactive and transparent reporting.
- Building an environment of trust.
Each of our Accountabilities was identified through an extensive non-scientific study of the Partners In Leadership database of organizational and leadership assessments. The database included information that was gathered over a 10-year period of time and included responses from hundreds of people in a wide variety of jobs and industries.
The assessments sampled attitudes, opinions and views of organizational members on the effectiveness of their organizations, leadership teams and leaders. Assessments focused on understanding how people viewed the strengths, weaknesses and current challenges of those organizations, teams and individuals. Various question-types were used in the assessments, including short answer, 1-10 survey and open-ended questions. The majority of responses were open-ended.
The information was collected in two ways: in-person interviews by Partners In Leadership experts and digital collection methods. The in-person data was classified and presented in an anonymous process, while the digital information was anonymous for both collection and presentation.
The Accountabilities emerged from a list of best practices found in people, teams and organizations with high accountability, and were further validated as the weaknesses found in organizations demonstrating low accountability. Clear correlations were found in the research data, validating each trait.
SOSDTM Accountability Tool
When consulting with their clients, Partners In Leadership introduces the powerful SOSD Accountability Tool and demonstrates how it is used to improve team and organizational performance. The tool focuses on how clients can use the Accountability Gap® methodology to identify and close Accountability Gaps in order to achieve their key results.
Accountability, empowerment, and employee engagement result from workers and teams who continually ask the accountability question posed by The Oz Principle: "What else can I do to operate Above The Line and to achieve the desired results?" When people do that, they learn the secret to getting better results, faster and more cost effectively. As the performance and expectation bar continues to rise, so does the effort it takes to clear the bar.
Take the Self TrackTM training team assessment
(Under 60 secs.)Training participants comment on the Steps To Accountability.