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Motivational leadership

William Buist

William Buist, Founder of xTEN Club on motivation and leadership

Whether you are the CEO of the company, or someone elsewhere on the totem pole, your role matters. There are various functions that each member of the team, as well as your customers, should be able to count on you to provide. Everyone is expected to deliver on their responsibilities and come through on promises and commitments made.

This is what we call the baseline of accountability. Knowing the baseline, means individuals truly know what they are responsible for, why it matters, who is affected, and when their output is needed. They know, and respect, the importance of their contribution. It is something that no one, in any business, is immune to.

It is a mistake to think of accountability as an aspect of doing what you are told rather it is about giving an honest account; whats been done, whats still to do, whats been learned, what value has been created.

So, how can you, as a business leader, create a brilliantly inspirational baseline of accountability, with a motivated and engaged team driving to achieve it?

Vision and Artistry

When we see a great picture that inspires us, we soak in the whole of it, and then can take time to focus on the beauty of its detail. Artists communicate well with colour and imagery and leaders must too. When the team sees what you see, with the same clarity it's time to empower them to make it real.

Creating Culture

When a successful sports team wins a major competition the boss isn't anywhere to be seen, the coach will take the TV interviews, the team will lift the cup. In business too getting the right balance of direction and focus is important, but when success comes, it belongs to everyone. Successful business cultures recognise the contribution everyone makes. Always. Yet the leaders role is crucial in making that possible.

Certainty of process

The culture is also about "the way things are done round here" and it's important to make clear how things do work on a day to day basis and then stick to it. Now you focus on what needs attention rather than struggling to work out "how do we approach this - this time..." Agree the approach with open minds and engaging with all the team for fastest results.

Clarity of purpose

It's tough to look forward, into an unknown and uncertain future and present a clear and unambiguous view of the reasons what you are seeking to do matters, yet when people share that real clarity it explodes business performance. Keep asking why, and when you think you know why, ask again, and again. Being clear delivers purposeful action, everything you do is done deliberately, on purpose. Strategy always overpowers tactical firefighting.

Inspiring Change

There's no room for empty enthusiasm, as leaders in our businesses it has to be real, and something that goes deeper than creating the culture that can make that happen. We believe three key actions by leaders truly inspires others to change, and to embrace the change that's needed with real enthusiasm and expectation. Now is not the time to be an absolute boss either, your experience is also of the old unchanged ways, and you are learning too. Collaboration is key because when done well everyone involved in the collaboration embraces the accountability they have for it.

Lifting Performance

Performance doesn't just happen, and when you have it its easy for it to be lost just as quickly as it came. Respecting the time and effort put in by others is key to that, especially as things change - which means that we are in new territory, where mistakes and slower pace is inevitable. It's strategic pace, slowing down in order to go faster once there is experience and skill in the new way of working.

Giving outstanding performance nowhere to hide

With accountability, above the baseline, comes opportunity. Great performance will be accounted for too, and the processes of 'giving an account' should be carefully designed to make sure there is nowhere to hide great performance. Learning from best practice as well as from less effective work is key to exploding business performance. Imagine if you also made sure that when things went brilliantly the WoW ('Way of Working') became embedded in the culture?


A baseline of accountability drawn on a vision, culture, consistent approach, and with clarity of purpose, gives businesses the opportunity to explode their performance if they go of it, and the journey will be extraordinary too.


About the Author

William Buist is a Business Strategist, Speaker, and founder of the exclusive xTEN Club - an annual programme of strategic activities for small, exclusive groups of business owners. xTEN helps accelerate growth, harness opportunity, build your business and develop ideas. William is also author of two books: At your fingertips and The little book of mentoring. See: and



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