Accountability and the Leader With Sam Silverstein

“If there's an accountability problem in an organization, there's also an internal relationship problem between the people working together in that organization.”

You’ve heard it 1,000 times: Team accountability makes projects run smoother. It’s true, it does. But why? Accountability is a personal issue. We are accountable to others, and it’s up to us and only us as individuals to hold ourselves accountable. To others. To our organizations. To our work. To ourselves.

There’s a lot more to it, and this interview with accountability and leadership expert, author, and speaker Sam Silverstein covers a lot of ground. It may even make you rethink the way you think and talk about accountability. Topics of discussion include:

  • What is accountability?
  • The values that define an organizational culture
  • How leaders can be accountable, and help people be accountable
  • Team accountability and what it takes to get there
  • Inspiring greatness in others

Resources mentioned in this episode:

About our guest


Sam Silverstein
Accountability and Leadership Expert

Accountability Keynote Speaker Sam Silverstein’s mission is to empower people to live accountable lives, transform the way they do business, and to thrive at extraordinary levels. By challenging leaders to shift priorities, cultivate an organizational culture based on accountability, and inspire both individuals and teams to take ownership in fresh and results-producing ways – he is helping companies dramatically increase productivity, profitability, and growth. Sam believes that accountability is the highest form of leadership.

As a former executive and owner, Sam’s manufacturing and distribution companies sold over $100 million in products and services. He successfully sold one of his businesses to a Fortune 500 company. Today, Sam writes, speaks, and consults with organizations around the globe to think differently, work with renewed purpose, and achieve record-breaking results. As a keynote speaker, Sam challenges audiences to discover and reach their best selves. He helps leaders build accountability throughout their organization. Sam works with entrepreneurs, multinational companies, corporations, and government agencies to drive increased engagement and productivity.

Episode Transcript


Brett Harned:       Hey there, welcome to Time Limit. Today's episode centers on a topic that's relevant for anyone, and that's accountability. Here's the thing, is accountability what you actually think it is? I have to say this conversation that I had with Sam Silverstein is one that might change the way that you think and talk about accountability. It sure did for me.

Brett Harned:       Sam's an expert on the topic. He's written six books on accountability, and he speaks and consults with organizations around the world on themes like creating an accountable workforce, developing committed employees, and retaining great people. This is definitely a conversation that I won't forget because it truly changed the way I'll approach the topic in the future. Check it out.

Brett Harned:       Hey Sam, welcome to Time Limit. Thank you so much for joining me today.

Sam Silverstein:    Brett, it is my pleasure and an honor to be here to share.

Brett Harned:       Awesome. Well, I'm excited to talk about a topic that's important to a lot of professionals and I think particularly managers and project managers, and that's accountability. And honestly. This feels like a really personal topic, at least for me. As a PM and a manager, I've struggled keeping people accountable to projects in my career as a PM, and I think I've even struggled keeping myself accountable to things at times. And as a PM educator, accountability is a topic that comes up a lot, so the minute that I grabbed your book, No More Excuses, I knew that I had to try to get you on the show. And I know that you've got a few other books as well that we could touch on. So, I've got a bunch of questions for you about the topic and about your book and maybe even some of the other books. Does that sound good? Ready to jump in?

Sam Silverstein:    I'm ready. Let's do this.

Brett Harned:       Awesome. So, let's start at the really high level, Sam, I'm curious about how you kind of got into this topic and this expertise around accountability and why it really matters.

Sam Silverstein:    Well, Brian, it's been a really interesting journey for me. I was involved in several businesses, and I was a partner in a manufacturing business that I ended up selling to a Fortune 500 company. And prior to selling that, I wrote my first book and started speaking, because people kept coming up to me and saying, "Wow, I really appreciate the advice you gave me." And quite honestly, I didn't remember having those conversations in the first place, and so I thought, "Well, if I can make a difference without trying, what would happen if I tried?" And so, that's what I started to do. And I was probably into this 10 years when I realized that I was speaking on so many different topics from personal development to marketing, leadership, because I'd had so many diverse experiences in my background, but nobody really knew what I did. No one could recommend me. No one how to find me.

Sam Silverstein:    And so, I took the time to say, okay, what am I really about? What is critically important? What does everything connect to? What's the driver? And really, ultimately, I got back to purpose and mission for myself, and what I realized, that everything I was really teaching and wanting to teach, it connected to accountability. And so, I started looking at everything through the lens of accountability at that poin, and that's when I wrote my first book on accountability, No More Excuses. And since then, I have written another six books on it and various aspects of it and countless case studies, worked with clients.

Sam Silverstein:    And what I've just discovered by having this narrow focus of a lens that I look through has been astounding. It just reinforces what I said 10 years ago when I wrote No More Excuses, and that is accountability is your competitive advantage. It is what differentiates you. It is something that is really special. And it's not as difficult to attain as we think, but for most people, I've discovered accountability really isn't what we think it is in the first place. So, now have I totally confused you?

Brett Harned:       No, you haven't, actually, because we had a little bit of conversation about how I read No More Excuses and how the way that you talk about accountability is really evolves over the 10 years since you wrote it. The first question I was going to ask you is kind of around this topic, right? You mentioned that your position on accountability is that it's something that differentiates you from your competition and gives you a competitive edge, and I really liked that because I'd never really thought of accountability on the individual level. And I think that's just based on my work experience and how people talk about accountability in the workplace.

Brett Harned:       Like in project management, we talk about accountability more in terms of being accountable to complete tasks or to do right by the team or finish your work. And that's not as motivating as, I think, the take that you provide in No More Excuses, so maybe you can expand on that a little bit and talk about that personal accountability. And maybe if I'm talking about accountability in terms of project management and teamwork and that kind of realm, maybe I'm talking about it or thinking about it in the wrong way.

Sam Silverstein:    Yeah. You know what? Let's start off. You mentioned this 30,000 foot view. Let's define what accountability is and where it comes from, and then let's overlay that into various settings. And project management, certainly, is one it applies to. So, here's how I define accountability. I'm going to keep it really simple. Accountability is keeping your commitments to people. Accountability is keeping your commitments to people.

Sam Silverstein:    Now, let's go a little bit further. You're responsible for things. You're accountable to people. Accountability always involves another person. When you involve other people, you're talking about a relationship, so accountability involves a relationship. Without a good relationship, you're not going to have good accountability. If there's a lack of relationships in an organization, there will be a lack of accountability. Organizations that are high in accountability, and we've actually created an incredible tool that allows us to go in and assess an organization's culture and see where accountability is strong and where it isn't, but we know that if there's an accountability problem, there's also have a internal relationship problem between the people working together in that organization.

Sam Silverstein:    And when you get into project management, project leadership, teamwork on a project, relationships are going to be critical if you want to, not just get the project completed but get it done right, get it done to a level of excellence, and get it done with a level of speed that can create competitive advantage. So, accountability is always going to be keeping your commitments to people. You're responsible for things, you're accountable to people, so that report is not going to hold you accountable but maybe I will. And hopefully, we don't even look at it that way, Brett. Hopefully, as a leader, I would help you be accountable because no one wants to be held accountable.

Sam Silverstein:    Being held accountable is the same as putting a gun to someone's head. Helping you be accountable is me coming alongside you and doing everything in my power to see that you're a success, and so when I, as a leader, take that approach, that I am accountable to you to help you succeed and to help you keep your commitments, then our relationship changes. Your desire to do a great job changes. And ultimately, the results change. So, accountability is not something that can be mandated. Boss can't walk in and say, "You're going to have to be accountable. You better be accountable. I'm going to hold you accountable." That all sounds great. It's good for about 30 minutes. It doesn't do anything but destroy relationships. Ultimately, true accountable leaders create a culture, a culture that prioritizes and encourages, inspires accountability and for people to want to be their best.

Brett Harned:       Yeah. That absolutely makes sense. And it's funny, I was reading your blog earlier, which is awesome and people should definitely check out your blog. There are a lot of really great stories there that are kind of enlightening and similar to what you've done in your books. But one post stuck out to me in September of 2019. There was a post called Accountable Leadership is Leadership that Creates a Safe Place to Work, basically telling the story of a business leader who, essentially, lost her job for sharing negative opinions publicly, pretty much just destroying any sense of emotional safety in the workplace.

Brett Harned:       Can you talk a little bit about, since we're kind of on that leadership line of thinking there, can you talk about how leaders can create safe spaces for their teams and to avoid that kind of situation? I mean, obviously, aside from being a negative jerk out in public in front of other people, there have to be other ways that good leaders can do better. Right?

Sam Silverstein:    Well, exactly. So, to build to this safe place, when I talk about keeping your commitments to people, the commitments I'm talking about are not commitments like showing up at 10:00 o'clock, taking the garbage out like you said you would. Those are your responsibilities. Your job description is a list of your responsibilities, and quite frankly, if you're not fulfilling your responsibilities in an organization, you should be fired. But why would you let someone stay in an organization that doesn't do what they're supposed to be doing? It makes no sense to me. And the challenge is a lot of companies let people stay around way too long, but the commitments I'm talking about are commitments like a commitment to the truth, a commitment to what you value, a commitment to stand with you when all hell breaks loose, a commitment to the faults and failures as well as the opportunities and successes, a commitment to a safe place to work.

Sam Silverstein:    These are all commitments that build relationship, that show that, as a leader, I have your back. Your success is tantamount to me. And so, a commitment to build a safe place to work means that I'm not showing favorites. I am not treating the person with a short skirt different than the person wearing pants. That it doesn't matter where you come from, it doesn't matter what you look like, it doesn't matter what the color of your skin is. If I'm treating people different, if there's bias, that's not a safe place to work. If you don't have the opportunity to have your voice heard at the table, that's not a safe place to work. There are a lot of people that are afraid to share their opinions about ways to improve the organization because their opinion may go against what some leaders said and they're worried about a job. That's not a safe place to work.

Sam Silverstein:    Now, what do you think it costs that organization by that person not sharing that opinion? Well, it costs the organization hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars because all these ideas are the ideas that go towards creating innovation, finding a better way, a faster way to do something, being more productive, delivering a better service, better connecting or taking care of your clients. All of that comes through these new ideas, and so the safe place to work is critical.

Sam Silverstein:    I'll tell you a story, Brett. A good friend of mine, Don Wainwright, used to own a business, Wainwright Industries, and he had about 3,500 employees and they won a Malcolm Baldrige Award, which is the highest US honor for quality that you can win. And he told me over lunch one time, he said, "We have a suggestion box now." Let's be honest, we both heard a suggestion box before, right, Brett?

Brett Harned:       Absolutely.

Sam Silverstein:    Yeah. And I mean, that's not a genius idea, but usually the suggestion boxes that I've seen collect more dust than anything else. If you ran your finger across the top of most of them in most factories that I've walked by, you're going to end up with a dirty finger just because you're going to pick up dirt off of that thing. Yeah. I mean, that's just the way it is. Here's what Don told me. He said, "Sam, we average one suggestion per person per week."

Brett Harned:       How'd they get to that?

Sam Silverstein:    Now, think about [inaudible 00:13:17].

Brett Harned:       Yeah.

Sam Silverstein:    Yeah. Okay. So, we're talking about 3,500 suggestions a week.

Brett Harned:       Wow.

Sam Silverstein:    What does that do for an organization's ability to get better when they get 3,500 suggestions a week? How do you compete against that? It would be almost impossible, and that's why they're so amazing. Now, your question was how do they get to that? They get to that because they've created a safe place where their people know that they're valued, where everyone's opinion carries weight, where leadership wants to hear from everyone, no matter what your job title, whether it's Executive Vice President or you're the janitor.

Sam Silverstein:    As a matter of fact, if you're pushing the broom on a shop floor, I bet you have far more great ideas about what can be improved on that shop floor and then any Vice President of that manufacturing business because you're on the floor, you experience it, no one's closer to it than you are. You see where there's things that people could possibly trip on and get hurt and safety problems and downtime and lost work. And so, why wouldn't you want those people to speak up? Well, when you encourage it, when you reward it, when people know that their opinions are actually read, they're listened to, they're evaluated, and that a lot of them get put into action, then what's going to happen is they'll continue to supply those opinions, those great ideas, those suggestions, because they are in a safe place.

Brett Harned:       Right. Yeah. I have to think like just the sheer action of following through on those suggestions only increases that engagement and builds trust and strengthens the relationships in the organization. That absolutely makes sense to me.

Sam Silverstein:    Yeah. So, let me ask you this, Brett. You put a suggestion in there. How do you feel when your suggestion gets implemented?

Brett Harned:       You feel great. You feel like you had a part in a direction that the company is taking, right? Whether that's just a small part of your world or the big picture organization. Yeah. I think it's amazing.

Sam Silverstein:    Exactly. What happens when your boss says, "Hey, you know what? Brett suggested that we paint these red lines over here because it's going to make it safer for all of us." Now, how do you feel when you're getting that recognition?

Brett Harned:       Right. Yep. Exactly.

Sam Silverstein:    Yeah. So-

Brett Harned:       So, is that accountability?

Sam Silverstein:    Sure [crosstalk 00:15:41].

Brett Harned:       Like is that, the story like in the theme. Yeah. That's accountability, right? In the way that you're talking about

Sam Silverstein:    It's accountability because the leadership is committed to a safe place. Now, I'm not talking physically safe, emotionally safe. And you are thinking to yourself, "Wow, they care about what I have to say. I have a voice. They don't see me as different. I don't get pushed aside because someone else's taller, thinner, better looking, has more hair, has whatever."

Sam Silverstein:    Here's the thing. I was in Nashville two days ago speaking for one of the premier coffee brands in the world, and the subject came up of speed. The speed's critical in a company. Speed can be a tremendous differentiating factor in your ability to compete. Well, when you create a safe place to work, what happens is people don't have to look over their shoulders. They only need to look straight ahead, and when all you're doing is looking straight ahead, you can move faster. And so, when leadership is being accountable by keeping their commitments to people, those deep seated visceral commitments like the truth, like living the values, like a safe place to work, you better believe that's accountability. That's accountability at the highest form.

Brett Harned:       Yeah. So, here's a kind of followup on that. We're kind of talking about leaders who are doing the right thing to create the right environment, to create a space where people can be productive and accountable to the organization and responsible for everything. So, I guess on some level, you have to be sure that the people you have in leadership positions are actually personally accountable to the organization overall. Am I thinking about that in the right way?

Sam Silverstein:    Absolutely. I totally believe it. Accountability starts on an individual level. We have to be accountable in our lives individually, and then when we come into an organizational setting, we take those same character traits and we apply them. That's why hiring is so critical. The values of an organization are what define the culture and not the values on the piece of paper. There's a lot of companies that have a set of values that are printed on a piece of paper and they're on their website. It's the values that are being lived that define the culture, and so if you hire the wrong people who are living the wrong values, then you'll never have the culture you want. You'll never have the accountability you want. The idea is you want to inspire that, and you can't inspire that unless you have the right people.

Brett Harned:       Absolutely. The right people who are in agreement with you about the overall kind of direction and culture of the organization, which is a really hard thing... First of all, it's a hard thing for, I think, an organization to define or redefine at some point in their history, right? But it's also hard to find people who truly feel like they can align themselves with those things and embed themselves in an organization and feel comfortable.

Sam Silverstein:    Well, see, there's just been so much wrong that's been taught about accountability, and what's been taught is you hold your people accountable. Well, you can say that all you want. It doesn't work. There's no one on the face of the earth that can prove to me that it works longterm. It might work a morning, a day, a week, but after a while, what's going to happen is those people are burned out. They don't want to be treated like that. They're not engaged. If they're not engaged, they're not productive. If they're not productive, they're not highly profitable. Now, you can make money with that kind of leadership. You can make money with that kind of leadership, but you'll never grow to be the best organization you could be, one that even exceed your wildest dreams, unless you have truly accountable leadership.

Sam Silverstein:    So, when I run into leaders that say, "You have to earn my trust," I know we have a problem, because if a leader can't trust you to begin with, then we're starting the relationship off on a bad leg. When I run into people who say, "This isn't personal, this is business," I know we have a problem, because, Brett, this conversation that you and I are having right now, I mean, this podcast is your business. I speak and write and consult around organizational culture, accountability, and leadership, but this conversation is personal between you and me. You and I could go sideways on this conversation if we didn't care about people, if we didn't want to... Maybe we don't agree on everything. Well, how do we treat the situation that we don't agree? So, every interaction between people is personal, and the leader that doesn't get that, well quite frankly, they shouldn't be in a leadership position.

Brett Harned:       Absolutely. I really like your take on this. I like how it comes back to the personal accountability and relationship building, because I think that shows a lot and it says a lot about someone's character, right? I mean, at the end of the day, you want a leader who has solid character, who isn't performing their day-to-day tasks or leadership or management with some level of bias, that they are actually holding true to the values of the company, and you know that deep down, they hold those things true to themselves.

Brett Harned:       I'd never really thought about it on the personal level, and when I read No More Excuses, it was kind of one of my questions, because I am the person who thought that accountability means like I'm accountable to getting a thing done, like I said at the beginning of the conversation. But in No More Excuses, you kind of lay out these five accountabilities, and you talk about being accountable to the right things. And I found that really interesting because even as an individual I sit here and think, "Well, how should I know what the right things are? How do I know what the right things are? Are those things rooted in just who I am as a person and what I believe in? Or are they shaped by the people and experiences that I have in my life or the organization that I'm working for?" Can you talk a little bit about that?

Sam Silverstein:    Well, you know what you just mentioned, you inspired a thought in my mind, and that is, quite frankly, if it's truly a great leader an accountable leader, they should inspire the best in you. They should bring out the best in you. But the organizations that we've helped, and definitely the ones that were case studied where we see this in action, I can't begin to tell you how many times I've heard people say, "I'm better for working here." And I've heard spouses on numerous occasions say, "My husband is a much better person for having worked here. My wife has changed since she went to work for that organization." We hear this all the time, and so if you're inspiring greatness in people, then that's really what accountability is going to be all about. And guess what? If you're inspiring greatness in your people, they're going to do great things for your organization, and that's ultimately what you want.

Sam Silverstein:    If you go back to no more excuses, I talk about doing the right things consistently, and I originally wrote that with the idea from a tactical standpoint. What are those activities that we're supposed to be engaged in, that if we do them over and over and over again and we stick with it, we're going to get positive results? And I still maintain that that's true. What activities do we need to be in? So, as an author, as a speaker who speaks at annual events for organizations all over the world, being heard on podcast is a right thing for me from the standpoint of it gets my name out there, people hear me. So, that's the tactical standpoint.

Sam Silverstein:    But I think what what you really connected to, and ultimately what I feel makes a difference is, when we're doing the right things, not in the tactical world, but more or less from the spirit of things. Are we treating people right? Are we communicating with people the way that we would want to be communicated with? Are we making decisions... You used the word character before. Are we making decisions with integrity, with regards to the people we work, with regards to our customers, with regards to our suppliers? I believe all of that shows up on the bottom line. I think the challenge we have in business, and you sort of alluded to this question before, what gets in the way, I think that the business schools are so busy teaching tactics. I think there's so much rhetoric out there like, "You have to earn my trust," and nonsense like that. I think we spend too much time on the tactics of our business. The tactics of our business are plentiful. I don't care what industry you're in. I could go out and read and learn, and I guarantee you, I can figure out what the tactics are.

Sam Silverstein:    But it's the spirit of your organization that's going to separate you. There's a million podcasts that you compete against. There's a bazillion companies that sell coffee. There's all kinds of dentists you can go to that have your teeth cleaned. But ultimately, the organization that gets the spirit of their organization right, which should be 50% of your time, when you get that right, then what happens is you build relationships with the people inside the organization. They want to stay, they want to work hard, and then, only when those relationships are built strong, you then build relationships with your clients, your customers, your patients, depending on the industry, and they want to be a part of what you're doing and they don't want to leave either.

Brett Harned:       I love everything you just said. I really appreciate the fact that this comes back to relationships, right? That is the thing that I believe is most important. And listen, my world is around project management specifically, and I truly believe that if you are a project leader, project manager, and you haven't taken the time to build relationships in the people who can impact or affect your project in a positive or a negative way, you're doing yourself and that project a disservice and your organization and team, right? If you're not taking the time to get to know people, understand what motivates them, communicate with them in a way is actually a landing and working for you and for them, then you're going to have a really hard time on kind of where I started with this idea of countability, right? Like what we typically will say, like keeping people accountable to the work.

Brett Harned:       Nobody wants to work for somebody or with somebody who is not a good person, who isn't looking out for the best interests of their team or the project or whatever it might be, so that all completely make sense to me. I think what I do want to bring it back to, though, is the idea of accountability and keeping people accountable, which you've pretty much shattered for me, and I get it, but I do think that there is this responsibility problem. I mean, we can talk about that for a minute, and I'm with you. If people aren't keeping up on their responsibilities, then they shouldn't have a job. Obviously, that argument is far more complex and there are things that hold people up from getting things done within a budget or an estimate that was determined or within a timeline. Right?

Brett Harned:       And that's the hardest part of being a project manager, because you can make those relationships, you can be checking in with people, they can be your friends, but there'll be times where those people don't follow through on what they're supposed to do. But at the same time, a PM is not necessarily responsible for managing that person. They're responsible for managing the project. So, they get into this position where there's this overall idea of accountability, and responsibility feels like it's been communicated, but things aren't following through. And there's no impact you can make as a PM because you're not that person's boss or manager. So, wondering if... It's kind of a long statement, I'm sorry for that. But I'm wondering if you have any kind of tips or tactics for managers or project managers who are looking for better ways to keep people accountable to the relationships that they're building within the team and the work as well.

Sam Silverstein:    Well, are they all working for the same organization?

Brett Harned:       Yes. Let's say yes.

Sam Silverstein:    Okay. So, the organization says there's a set of values, and in those values, I guarantee they're values around... A great set of values connects to four things in particular: foundational values, which talk to your character; relational values, which talk about internal and should talk about internal and external relationships; professional values, how we do things around here; and community values, how we connect to and support the community that we're in. And most of the time you'll see relational values show up in terms of respect. Something along those lines.

Sam Silverstein:    Well, if I'm not speaking nicely with you, if I'm disrespecting you and talking poorly to you, then my boss should come in and say, "Hey, around here, Sam, we respect people, we work with people, we work through our differences, and I need you to work a little bit better with Brett or that's just not going to work out." And then the next time that she overhears me disrespecting you, she walks in and says, "You know what? We talked about this. We teach this. It's in our conversation all the time. You're not showing respect for your peers.. I'm going to have to let you go," and let me go.

Brett Harned:       Yep.

Sam Silverstein:    And so, what happens is, over time, you create an environment that has people that understand what the values are and live the values. You cannot lead a high performance team on a project with low performance individuals.

Brett Harned:       So true. So very true.

Sam Silverstein:    But here's the challenge, leadership has to say, "We're going to live the values." So, I'm in front of 45 CEOs one time, and I said, "What do you do when your top salesperson disrespects two associates in the organization?" And one of the CEOs says, "I move him to a corner office where he won't have to interface with so many people." Well, right then he said, whatever value that he has that talks about relationships, it's a lie. That you don't have to live the values in our company if you can produce.

Sam Silverstein:    And so, as soon as you do that, you've created, instead of a culture by design it's a culture by default, you can never have a high performance team. People will never be responsible, all the people, and get their work done on time. The team will never perform at an outstanding level. Not to say that they won't get the job done, not to say that you won't make money, but you'll never have a place that people just love going to, that they brag about to their friends, that hey can't wait to get to work. And there are organizations out there, lots of them, that are that way, that are great, that are amazing, that are incredibly high performing because they say, "These are our values. We're going to live them no matter what." That's the commitment.

Brett Harned:       Right. That makes sense

Sam Silverstein:    A commitment is no matter what.

Brett Harned:       Yep. So, I have a little bit of a followup on that. So, I kind of think of things in, maybe, levels, right? So, there's like this organizational level, then there might be like a departmental or then a project level, right? Where there are like groups of people and teams forming, and there's little subcultures that I think start to develop. Do you think it's a worthwhile exercise for teams to talk about values and culture and maybe defining values that roll up to the organization, or should it always just be like, there's one level of organizational values, everything that we do rolls up to that?

Sam Silverstein:    Well, the number one question I'm asked by an audience that isn't top leaders is, "What happens when my boss isn't living the values?"

Brett Harned:       Yeah, that's another one. Yeah. What do you do? What's your response?

Sam Silverstein:    Well, and that's kind of what you're... First of all, if the organization has a great set of values and they're being lived, then a department doesn't need to come up with their own. Now, they may stumble upon something that would add to it, and if that's the case, then that's great. And leadership in that organization would probably be open to it. But here's the thing, value should always be a part of the conversation. Every meeting that has two or more people, there should be a conversation around values. If you, Sue, and I get together to discuss something, then someone in that group should say, "If we make this decision, it doesn't align right with what we say we value," or, "We should make the decision to do this because it aligns with what we value when we talk about blah, blah, blah."

Sam Silverstein:    When the conversation about values is always a part of the conversation, then what happens is that culture becomes that culture by design rather than a culture by default. The values are not just supposed to be for marketing. They don't just go on the wall. And the really powerful organizations that know how to live their values and outstrip the marketplace in terms of performance are always talking about their values, are always talking about their culture. It's always a part of the conversation.

Sam Silverstein:    In my book, Non-Negotiable, it's a case study about Happy State Bank, which is the name of a real bank out of Amarillo, and when they sat down and I sat in on their board meeting and they're doing this strategic planning, their nine point plan, the first point on their nine point plan is protecting the culture. That's how important it is. It's the first item they discuss when they look at their strategic plan, protect the culture. And so, organizations that don't get that, they may make money but they'll never be outstanding.

Sam Silverstein:    Another organization I did a case study on in the construction industry, and unemployment in their markets is essentially zero. Zero. And when they run an ad for a job opening, they get between 40 and 100 applicants.

Brett Harned:       Interesting.

Sam Silverstein:    So, accountability pays. Accountability is a competitive advantage. Accountability tracks to the bottom line when something that leadership understands that they are responsible to create that culture that inspires accountability, that prioritizes accountability, and inspires people to want to be their best.

Brett Harned:       I think you've summed it up so well. I don't think I have any other questions for you, and I know we're kind of coming up on our time, but is there anything else that you want to mention to our audience? Are there books of yours that you want to mention? Any other points around accountability that you think are important for people to kind of hang on to? Because feel like I'm really enlightened by this. I'm definitely looking at accountability in a different way now. And I'm thinking back to all the organizations that I've worked in or for where there were values that were not stuck to, but accountability was always positioned as, "Get this thing done or else," kind of thing. So, you've definitely opened up my mind, but I'd love to hear anything else you've got for us.

Sam Silverstein:    Well, my mission is to build a more accountable world, and I serve that mission through three specific activities, teaching, inspiring, and supporting. And so, today you've given me the opportunity to, hopefully, teach and inspire. To me, the most important thing is to understand that accountability and responsibility are two different things, and accountability is keeping your commitments to people. And it's those deep seated, powerful commitments that go to building a relationship.

Sam Silverstein:    I think we've given everyone enough to to think about to get going, and if they want more, there's just hundreds of articles and videos that are free on my website. You can either go to samsilverstein.com or beaccountable.com. B-Eaccountable.com. And then, of course, all of the books are also available there, as well as on Amazon. But I'd love to hear from people. We have a newsletter, whatever. Get involved, let's build accountability in our lives individually, let's build it in our organizations, and then, ultimately, let's build it in the world around us.

Brett Harned:       Awesome. Well, again, Sam, thank you so much for joining me. I definitely recommend folks check out your website. The blog is great. It's like really quick interesting reads that people can dig into. I did it over my lunch earlier this week, and I'll definitely be back. It's one of my bookmarks now. And your books are awesome. So, thanks so much for joining me here, educating me a little bit more about accountability, and really reframing the way that I think about it. Really, really appreciate it. Thanks so much.

Sam Silverstein:    Thank you, Brett. It really has been an honor. I greatly appreciate it.

Brett Harned:       Thank you. All right folks, what do you think about accountability versus responsibility? And can you see how the values of your organization can help you ground your own leadership style? Personally, I can see it, and I can see how it can possibly be a hard thing to find, but the organizations that Sam is working in, totally get it. There's a lot more to read up on or even hear from Sam, so check out the show notes For links to all the great resources we mentioned in the conversation. And while you're at it, do us a favor and share and read our show and listen to your podcasts. Thanks so much, and we'll see on the next episode.

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