I recently attended the SCORE National Leaders’ Conference in Jacksonville. Our keynote speaker was Sam Silverstein, author of, "No More Excuses, The Five Accountabilities for Personal and Organizational Growth" (Sound Wisdom $15.99 www.soundwisdom.com).

Mr. Silverstein’s speech motivated me to read his book immediately after the conference. The book’s message is that accountability is the highest form of leadership. Your beliefs are the only thing that will determine your success. Rich corporate cultures inspire accountability. Your values are what is important. As a leader/employee, you either are or are not responsible for things.

Silverstein focuses on five principles in his book.

1 - Doing the right things

Do the right things consistently and strive to do them with a commitment to excellence. If something is not working to your level of excellence, it is up to you to get it right. Doing the right things will support your strategic goals.

If you are in a leadership position in your company, it is up to you to be the visionary. You must establish the strategy for execution and ensure the results. Focus on the right things and tune everything else out. Your goal, your strategic intent, should be simple and memorable.

Determine who is doing what to reach the goal and make achieving it a reality.

2 - Managing your space

Silverstein emphasizes that business leaders are responsible for pursuing new opportunities for growth. “We and we alone are accountable for making space for the new stuff by getting rid of the old stuff. If we don’t create space, we can’t try new things. If we aren’t trying new things, our competitors will beat us to new opportunities.”

It is easy to do the familiar. But is there something else that you can do to achieve a greater yield? Do you have the products and services that will take your business to the next level?

3 - Managing the process

When strategic intent faces obstacles and you continue to move forward toward attaining the goal, then you are managing the process. Silverstein calls it, “Accepting proactive accountability for making it happen.” When you encounter obstacles, ask if there is anything you can do to improve the situation.

Will you be the kind of person who accepts accountability for managing the process? Managing the process means taking proactive responsibility for moving things forward in support of your strategic intent.

“Every time we make an excuse and every time we abdicate, we stop managing the process,” Silverstein says.

4 - Establishing the right expectations

“Expectations are the targets we set for ourselves. Once we accept them, they determine our actions, our outlook and our destinies,” Silverstein says. Goals need to be realistic, attainable and also a stretch.

According to one of Silverstein’s interviews featured in the book, “If you can’t set reasonable expectations for yourself and others, everything else is for naught.”

Be sure to talk with your employees for their buy-in so they are accountable to their goal, not just yours. Shared expectations need to be based on the current situation.

Being held accountable for achieving unrealistic results that can only be achieved by cutting corners or breaking the rules is at odds with ethics and values. It is far better to admit that the goal cannot be achieved without bending the rules. Neither personal or organizational standards should ever be compromised to achieve results.

5 - Contributing to your relationships

“Failure to manage relationships means ultimate failure. Success in managing relationships means ultimate success,” according to Silverstein.

We should be looking for ways to enhance our relationships both personally and professionally. It does matter what others think. “Personal accountability is not about giving back — it's about giving,” Silverstein says.

In both your personal and business life, give because it’s the right thing to do.

“Managing relationships will always be an essential part of leadership,” says South African politician Roelf Meyer, who also is interviewed in the book. Help the people on your management team achieve their goals.

“When there are problems," Silverstein explains, "accept your fair share of the responsibility for resolving them, and spend more time on the solution than on the blame game. Our accountability to manage our relationships must support principles of equity, transparency and ethical dealings with others.”

Remember to give back personally and corporately to your community, your country, your world, in both time and money. It is important to follow through with your commitments.

Remember, no more excuses! Accountability is a way of doing business.

Dennis Zink is a volunteer, certified mentor and chapter chairman of Manasota SCORE. He is the creator and host of Been There, Done That! with Dennis Zink, a nationally syndicated business podcast series. He facilitates a CEO roundtable for the Manatee Chamber of Commerce, created a MeetUp group, Success Strategies for Business Owners and is a business consultant. Email him at centreofinfluence@gmail.com.