Updated: Dec 20, 2019
We’ve all heard the phrase “Stay in your lane", I’ve even used it a few times this week. There are a few things to consider before confidently asking someone to stay in their lane.
Are the lanes defined? In the context of a leadership team do we all have a shared understanding of who is accountable for what? These are effectively your lanes. Do we know how to measure the performance of that team (lane)? What are their numbers?
Just like the lines painted on the road, they are there to help us.
Knowing who is accountable for what starts out by not thinking about the people at all, but with thinking about what accountabilities exist. In EOS® (the Entrepreneurial Operating System®) we call it the Accountability Chart, the process of building your Accountability Chart well is a game-changer.
We need to map this out, not just for ourselves as leaders, but also for the teams we lead. We also need to remember that things change and we need to make sure the "maps" are updated regularly and are front of mind at all times.
Once you’ve got a clear map of what the accountabilities are and have organized them into departments, your “lanes” start to appear. You will then hopefully have some obvious choices within your leadership team to lead those departments, if not, at least you have visibility of some empty seats that will need to be filled in the future.
Ironically one of the most powerful parts of having accountabilities defined at a high level like this is knowing when and where you can cross lanes to help your peers.
Departments being defined shouldn’t build walls; it should set the rules and bring clarity. Once we know who is accountable for what we must play by their rules when we’re active in their space, and respect that they are ultimately accountable for what we do in their area of the business.
Enter the lane respectfully and leave it the way you found it (or better).
When it comes to measuring the performance or output of the team I think you should have a good spread of activity-based numbers and output based numbers. A short list consisting of both should act as indicators for when it may be healthy for you to cross lanes and help out your peers. Provided that you have enough leading indicators, you may even find yourself lending a hand from your own lane.
Just like the lines painted on the road, they are there to help us. They keep us in our lane, they keep others in theirs too. If you cannot abide by the rules and respect the accountabilities then stay in your own f@#$ing lane.
The upshot of this article is simple. Set and agree on accountabilities, who is accountable and how these are measured, and stay in your lane.
If you must cross lanes, don’t be a jerk.
If you would like to learn more about the EOS process® and how the Accountability Chart fits in, please let me know.