A lesson in Leadership Accountability.
“I doh want put nobody out of bread” can be translated as; “I don’t want someone to lose their job, for then they won’t be able to eat.”
To give you context, on the Caribbean island that I grew up and where I currently reside, we don’t have unemployment benefit. So if you lose your job, that’s it; you get paid what wages or salaries are owed to you up to the point of termination along with any outstanding vacation days.
But back to the lesson.
I was triggered and inspired to write this article after having a conversation with a leader who got that response while discussing one of her teammates’ poor performance. This is the default response some leaders have when they are either afraid, inexperienced or weak. And as an HR Professional, I’ve heard this countless times.
I am proud to say that the organization where I work and have worked for in the past is mindful and practice huge amounts of care and empathy. So putting someone out of bread is synonymous with “not holding people accountable.”
For you see, in the Caribbean, we love to talk, we say things like “just talk to him or her” or “can’t you just talk” or “give them a chance” or “they could have given him/her a chance.”
There is no accountability meted for the individual performing poorly because the focus is on “the bread” taken away.
My question is, though…How is this helping that person, really?
What is the message you are sending to the rest of the team?
What is this saying about your ability to lead?
What is this saying about your judgement?
For every time you fail to hold someone accountable for their actions, you are out of alignment with your commitment to the organization, you diminish your influence as a leader all because you are operating from a place of fear.
You weaken your muscles and skills that need to be built to have these critical conversations. PS, these conversations don’t always have to end in separation of employment.
So if you’re a Caribbean based leader, I encourage you to think the next time you say this phrase or something similar. Think about what you are really saying.
Are you willing to compromise the integrity of your team and the work you’ve put in by failing to address poor performance and hold others accountable?
Seek the help you need, be it a coach or online training, to support you in managing conflict and understanding the importance of setting boundaries and accountability. This will aid in both your personal and professional development.
And if you’re an expatriate on assignment in the Caribbean, use this article to build your cultural awareness and to understand the underlying dynamics of the team you were entrusted to lead.