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687: Leader’s Rule of 3: Initiating Team Accountability Success – Adriana Booth

Do you want your team to be accountable? Then you need to start at the right place — with yourself! To help you understand true accountability and how to instill it as a leader, Kirk Behrendt brings back Adriana Booth, one of ACT’s amazing coaches, with three rules to follow to improve your team’s performance. Accountability won't happen by itself! To learn how to create a culture of team accountability, listen to Episode 687 of The Best Practices Show!

Episode Resources:

Links Mentioned in This Episode:

Register for ACT’s To The Top Study Club, Cultivating Confidence in Leadership: Healthy Leaders = Happy Team (July 12, 2024):

Read The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace by Gary Chapman and Paul White:

Read Traction by Gino Wickman:

Main Takeaways:

Set clear expectations.

Have your expectations and goals in writing.

Never assume your team knows what is expected.

Consistently reward your team, even for small achievements.

Create an easy-to-do system for showing appreciation to your team.

Be sure to consistently correct your team if expectations are not being met.


“All of my clients, at some point in our work together, will say, ‘How do I hold my team more accountable?’ As a coach, even, sometimes you're thinking, ‘I think we tried everything. What do we have to do next?’ Then, the light bulb goes off. Well, accountability is really responsibility, so we don't have to make it so elusive. When we think about, ‘How do I hold my own self accountable and responsible?’ then we can start working on how we can hold others accountable or responsible.” (2:05—2:40) -Adriana

“We have to set clear expectations. So, like I said a few moments ago, as the practice owner or the leader, it is up to you. That's the hard part. It's up to you to share the mission, the vision, the values, and the purpose for the practice in a way that you can inspire the team to work towards those.” (6:41—7:06) -Adriana

“In all fairness to team members, they don't know what you expect. They have no idea what you're thinking. And so, whether you have dogs, whether you have kids, whether you have team members — if you're involved with any other living thing, I would say even plants — heck, you’ve got to set expectations about what the roles are here.” (7:14—7:38) -Kirk

“We like to know what people expect from us. That's how we can feel successful. So, if I am very vague in my expectations, my team is going to take their own path. And if I'm vague in my own expectations with myself, it's up in the air. So, we have to be very clear — and clear is kind — that, ‘Here is what I want. Here is where we're going. This is going to be the result that we're hoping for.” (8:59—9:30) -Adriana

“E – R = C. Expectations minus reality equals conflict. I got it from a great business owner many, many years ago. I'm not kidding, I use it probably 15, 20 times a day. What it means is any time you're in conflict with any human being, or any process, or anything — you experience conflict — it's usually a discrepancy between expectations and reality. You thought this was going to happen, and it fell short.” (9:41—10:08) -Kirk

“Rule number two: reward consistently . . . All of my clients that I know listen to our podcast are probably laughing and shaking their head and saying, ‘Oh, I hear it all the time.’ But that's what I tell them. Make sure — even if it's not in your nature — to thank people and be specific in that. Appreciation in the Workplace is a great book. It's in alignment with the love languages. If I know that my team really enjoys being verbally thanked, it's so easy. ‘Kirk, great job with Mr. Smith today. You knocked it out of the park. I heard your verbals on that. He left smiling. He had a great day. Thank you so much.’ That really fills the cup of that person hearing that thank-you and getting that reward for the work they did. They're going to do it more and more. We're all built that way.” (12:37—13:46) -Adriana

“I work out with a coach, a trainer — we're addicted to coaching here — and he's a former Marine. Sometimes, he’s a little scary. Early this morning, we worked out. He said he had someone that used to walk in every day and say, ‘Morale is high. Everybody is having a great day.’ He was like, ‘Why do you keep saying that?’ He's like, ‘Because if we speak it, we will believe it.’ I was like, ‘Oh, I love that.’ So, you walk in, ‘I'm having a great day. Is everybody having a great day? We're all happy today. We're awesome. We're going to kick butt today.’ It really helps your team.” (16:30—17:10) -Adriana

“I've had some of my clients that really struggle with this, that it's not in their nature to pay attention to the little things. I'm like, ‘Okay, great. Let's fill out a sheet. What's their favorite candy? What's their favorite color?’ All these little things that seem insignificant and kind of childish, but when you want to say thank you to someone and you hand them a Kit Kat bar and that's their favorite candy, they're like, ‘Oh my gosh, you remembered!’ They feel seen and heard. That really will help them to be like, ‘I know we've worked really hard, and we still have a really hard rest of the month. But you know what? We can do this. We're all on the same bus. We're going to do this together.’” (18:18—18:54) -Adriana

“We don't want this fake happy culture. We have our expectations. When they are met or when good deeds are done, we reward and celebrate. And then, when maybe we do have that hard month that, ‘Augh, we were really under goal. What happened?’ then we have to correct — and we have to correct consistently, just like we reward consistently.” (20:01—20:26) -Adriana

“When a team member isn't meeting the expectations that you can say were very clearly established, you have to act fast around that. And it doesn't have to be a punitive conversation. It can be a, ‘Hey, here's what I thought we were aiming for, and here's where we landed. Tell me how you feel about this,’ or, ‘Tell me how you saw this happen.’ That way, it opens a dialogue. And now, what our hope is is that we have mission, vision, core values, and we set expectations. So, we have built trust here along the way, and now we can have this — it feels crunchy — conversation without us walking away both feeling like, ‘Wow, that was awful.’ We can have it, and work through it, and then be like, ‘Okay, we've got to start fresh. We've got to move forward.’” (20:29—21:28) -Adriana

“When you look at it as, ‘I really care about this person, as this team member, and I want them to succeed. I know I want my practice to succeed,’ I'm hoping that you can walk into these conversations a little lighter. Sometimes, write it down. Some of my clients, I'll tell them, ‘Write down the key points that you want to make sure you discuss in a tough conversation because we can get thrown off.’ Like, if the other person starts crying, or gets really upset, you panic, ‘Okay, it's fine. It's fine. Never mind.’ We don't want to do that . . . The frustration of where we got off track, don't let it stay off track. That frustration will build over time when you're seeing the expectations being missed. And just like in our friendships and relationships, if you let something build up, it ends up boiling over. We don't want to get to that point. So, let's make sure when we see something that frustrates us, we step back as a leader and say, ‘Okay. Was I clear? Yes, I was clear. Okay, now we need to correct.’ So, let's have another conversation about, ‘Here's what happened. Here's where we went off track. We've got to get back.’” (22:53—24:23) -Adriana

“Any unresolved conflict always becomes a crisis. That's why E – R = C is so important because a conflict, unresolved, will fester, grow, and it'll break, ultimately, whether it be a relationship, whether it be an inflammation, whether it be something [else]. So, we've got to be able to point out these things.” (25:09—25:28) -Kirk

“If we think the expectations are clear, does the other person? Have they been written? Have they been explained? Are there systems related to these tasks so that there are checklists or directions to follow? I think that's really what it all comes back to, is we really have to start in the beginning. In our coaching process, we do a great job of that, is checking all of these necessary boxes so that accountability and responsibility is a lot easier to foster over time. I sometimes feel like I'm a team member advocate so early on. ‘Oh, this person isn't doing this. They don't do this right.’ ‘Okay. Well, do they know?’ ‘Well, I think they know.’ ‘Well, let's make sure they do.’ So, I always say, ‘I think most of our team members are amazing at what they do already. They just haven't been given the right tools or roadmap to follow for your practice or for what you want as a leader.’ Once we give them that, they'll take off.” (26:20—27:27) -Adriana

“I think that most of you listening will know the term micromanaging quite well. As a business owner, I absolutely empathize with the sense of, ‘But this is all mine. This is all my responsibility.’ But that's why we use tools like Traction and right person, right seat. Are we putting the right team members in place that we can delegate things to take off of your plate as a leader so that way we can have other people responsible and that it's not all falling on our shoulders as a leader and feel like we need to micromanage everything that everyone is doing? Because that's going to be super ineffective. You're going to be worn out, burned out, and mentally drained because you still have to do the dentistry. And that is hard in and of itself because now you have people interactions all day with different stressful situations. So, you have to protect your peace, is really down to the nitty gritty of it, is protect your peace and protect your own self and your sanity by delegating to the really sharp people that you've already hired.” (29:10—30:27) -Adriana

“We used to talk about this a lot, putting that mirror up and saying personal responsibility is really the only thing that can lead to true accountability. If I cannot maintain that accountability amongst my team, it's probably because I can't maintain it with myself. So, when you have unclear team and individual goals, you're going to see this show up. If I don't know, as a team member, what I'm responsible for, I'm just going to go and follow my own path. And then, we're going to have a sit-down, and you may say to me, ‘Hey, your results are falling below the line.’ ‘Well, what results are you talking about?’ And so, when we think about that, that's where we have to go, ‘Don't be frustrated, be fascinated.’ Because we will get really frustrated as a leader, as a business owner, when our goals aren't being met. So, then we've got to start with, ‘Okay, what individual goals did I set with this team member? What team goals did we set? What practice goals did we set?’ because they're all going to compound when we work together. Once that clarity is given at the top and all the values, the goals, the core values, mission, vision, all the great things are really clear, it's going to be so much easier to have clear, individual goals and team goals.” (31:46—33:20) -Adriana

“If it's not written, it doesn't exist. When we want to be clear with our goals and our expectations, don't just tell them to your team. Have it written out. Put it on a scorecard where we can get eyes on it, and we can track progress. It could be a number. It can be an amount. Anything can be tracked. That's the beauty of it. We can have goals in every different form. But if it's not written for your team member to be able to grab and to read and to know, ‘This is what Kirk said he wanted,’ that conversation was two months ago. They're going to forget. Write it down. Clearly describe your goals. Clearly describe what you expect. Make sure you're rewarding consistently, clearly, and specifically, and make sure you're correcting consistently, clearly, and correctly.” (33:44—34:45) -Adriana


0:00 Introduction.

1:36 Why accountability is important.

6:35 Rule 1) Set clear expectations.

8:31 Specific is terrific, vague is the plague.

9:32 E – R = C.

12:19 Rule 2) Reward consistently.

16:01 Speak it so you believe it.

17:12 Create systems for showing appreciation.

19:11 Don't create a fake happy culture.

21:29 Rule 3) Correct consistently.

26:09 Don't assume team members know what's expected.

27:28 Balance accountability with empathy.

29:02 Don't shoulder all the responsibility and accountability.

31:29 Set clear goals for your team.

33:35 If it’s not written, it doesn't exist.

35:14 Tips for rewarding team members.

35:44 The ARCH method, explained.

37:09 More about ACT’s upcoming To The Top Study Club.

Adriana Booth, BS, RDH Bio:

Adriana Booth is a Lead Practice Coach who partners with dentists and their teams to cultivate leadership skills, build practice growth, and streamline business practices. After spending nearly two decades in the dental industry working with top-notch dental teams, Adriana came to ACT to share her passion for professional growth, high-level training, and systems creation with our clients. As a dental hygienist with a love for continuing education and personal growth, helping a practice become successful is at the heart of her passion for dentistry.

Adriana has a B.S. in Dental Hygiene from West Liberty University/O’Hehir University. By being involved in several Columbus, Ohio, study clubs, Adriana maintains strong relationships within her local dental community. She enjoys a variety of fitness activities, family time, good books, and at the top of her list, her fur babies

Kirk Behrendt

Kirk Behrendt is a renowned consultant and speaker in the dental industry, known for his expertise in helping dentists create better practices and better lives. With over 30 years of experience in the field, Kirk has dedicated his professional life to optimizing the best systems and practices in dentistry. Kirk has been a featured speaker at every major dental meeting in the United States. His company, ACT Dental, has consistently been ranked as one of the top dental consultants in Dentistry Today's annual rankings for the past 10 years. In addition, ACT Dental was named one of the fastest-growing companies in the United States by Inc Magazine, appearing on their Inc 5000 list. Kirk's motivational skills are widely recognized in the dental industry. Dr. Peter Dawson of The Dawson Academy has referred to Kirk as "THE best motivator I have ever heard." Kirk has also assembled a trusted team of advisor experts who work with dentists to customize individual solutions that meet their unique needs. When he's not motivating dentists and their teams, Kirk enjoys coaching his children's sports teams and spending time with his amazing wife, Sarah, and their four children, Kinzie, Lily, Zoe, and Bo.