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Mind the Gap: Accountable vs. Apathetic

Leaders and team members occasionally flow between feeling truly accountable and connected to their areas of responsibility, and feeling apathetic about it all. It is a natural thing to have varying levels of emotional connection to the things we do. Still, the key thing for top leaders to understand is that these massive gaps between accountability and apathy must be identified and closed, especially regarding the organizations' most important expectations. We, as leaders, need to look for these gaps intentionally. We must seek them out. There will always be top performers (the "A-Group"), bottom performers (the "C-Group"), and the middle group (the "B-Group"), and Gapology is all about seeking information about these groups to understand the differences. Especially the massive gaps between the A and C-Groups. What makes them tick? What behaviors create each group, and what can we learn through careful analysis?

We must seek out why the top is the top and the bottom is the bottom. This analysis helps us close our own Knowledge Gaps as leaders, shines a light on what makes winning performance around our expectations, and provides us with critical information to share with the rest of our team on how they can also win. This analysis, discovery, and sharing process must be built into our Leadership Rhythm and practiced each week to help our teams, our organizations, and ourselves continue to grow.

There are two areas to understand and go after in our analysis. We must first accept that we have Performance Gaps from a negative perspective in some areas of our organization. This is when we fail to achieve an expectation. Conversely, we must accept that we have Gaps from a positive perspective where we exceed expectations. In both cases, we need to seek out an understanding of what behaviors are causing those gaps. What are the top performers doing that are missing from the bottom? We must dive into each area and look for the behavioral differences. Often, we only look to the negatively performing groups to coach those underperforming. The common missing step, however, is the careful analysis of the top group. We have as much to gain from them, as we do from the bottom performers... possibly more.

We recommend spending regular, dedicated focus time with your team's top performers to learn from them, analyze what they are doing to win, and then determine a process to reset expectations with the rest of the team.

Here are a few tips:

  • Set clear expectations to ensure the teams fully understand what they are expected to do and deliver.

  • Tie the expectations to the Purpose so teams understand why they are expected to do the important things for our organization.

  • Build specific Gap-seeking processes into your leadership rhythm. Spend time with your A-Group to see what behaviors are delivering the winning results. Compare those behaviors to your C-Group performers. Publish and rank your results while providing recognition to top performers and coaching to bottom performers

From all of this is a simple message. Actively seek information (Mind the Gap) on what your top and bottom performers are doing compared to the expectations. Your leadership pathway for helping your team improve and grow will lie somewhere in what you discover. Share your learnings and reset expectations. Then, observe, measure, and post the results, along with accompanying coaching or recognition.

Mind the Gap!


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