Today, I officially release my book Genuine Kindness: Achieving Results through Trust and Understanding. In some ways, this launch date is the crystallization of my thirty years’ experience in the HR field. I bring to bear all I have learned collaborating with organizations and their leadership across multiple industries, in my pursuit to find the most productive, compassionate, efficient, and transparent standards of workplace behavior. While each business has a distinct culture with its own unique needs and concerns, Genuine Kindness provides a template for accommodating cultural variety while universally upholding civility, care, and clarity in workplace interactions.

Leading up to the launch, I’ve been sharing glimpses into the four conditions of genuine kindness covered in my book. In this final preview, I want to examine the fourth condition: accountability.

Commonly defined, “accountability” is often limited to the act of accepting responsibility for missteps. While accepting responsibility is certainly a facet of the condition, my goal in partnering with organizations is also to ensure their employees have a clear sense of what is desired within the workplace, according to its mission and values. New hires should never have to guess if what they’re doing aligns with the standards of their employer. It’s rare for an employee to violate their organization’s mandate intentionally; more often, there is simply not enough clarity about the ways in which tasks should be accomplished—the how versus the what. Leadership must demonstrate culture fit and provide clear models and metrics of behavior that reflect the spirit of the company.

Short-run gains can often obscure long-term damage caused by the reckless means by which goals are reached. When Jack Rooney took over at U.S. Cellular in 2000 as president and CEO, he was looking at a 20 percent turnover rate among workers. What he discovered, particularly within customer service, was success had been measured merely by results: sales targets, number of calls received, and other numeric measures. In the absence of sufficient guidance, employees were put in a position where the how was ignored, tacitly permitting a “by any means necessary” approach to meeting and exceeding goals.

The result was poor customer service and even worse workplace morale. Rooney shifted gears dramatically by focusing on the ways in which people achieved goals, putting far less emphasis on the numbers. He judged success based on the customer experience, using positive interactions as models of comportment within the organization. By the end of his decade-long tenure at U.S. Cellular, Rooney had solved the turnover crisis, leaving the organization as the sixth-largest wireless provider in the U.S., with more than six million customers and doubled service revenues.

Even without exclusively focusing on end results, this attention to the how enabled the numbers to take care of themselves. Rooney realized customer care fostered care among workers throughout the hierarchy of the organization. Ultimately, this clarity of conduct led to greater productivity and explosive growth overall.

Accountability, as the final condition of genuine kindness, is not just punitive: It positively defines the company’s culture as valuing who people are, beyond the numbers they achieve. It puts a premium on trustworthy, reliable, and transparent conduct, which leaders model and communicate clearly within and among teams. It also sets boundaries that never leave workers and managers to guess what is acceptable or unacceptable. Leaders set the tone by centering accountability, which then boosts morale and aligns purpose through the ranks.

To order Genuine Kindness, click here!