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Goal Achievement

Accountability Is Not A Dirty Word

Shifting Your Perspective on Accountability

I hear it often on initial consultation calls with potential clients, “I don’t like accountability.” 

Accountability has gotten a bad reputation and I am here to set the record straight. If you want to achieve your goals, accountability can be a great tool to add to your repertoire. And in my experience, successful people learn to embrace accountability because they know it’s imperative to achieving breakout performances. 

Let’s face it. We all have fears, limiting beliefs and negative mental narratives that prevent us from following through and taking action to achieve our goals. For me, that fear was starting my podcast. The good news is that having an accountability partner can help us work through fears, understand that limiting beliefs are not serving us and re-write those mental narratives. 

Getting accountability right is not easy. If you are in a leadership role, you likely have to hold people accountable to following through and you may already know what doesn’t work – a one size fits all approach. People have different goals and different motivations and trying to apply one form of accountability simply doesn’t work. 

I’ve learned from those initial consultation calls that when a client doesn’t like accountability, it’s usually because they aren’t connected to the action they’re being held accountable for. Many leaders have a couple of solutions to offer their mentees and say or apply them on repeat. In my financial world experience, I heard many problems met with advice to “make more dials.” Do you know how many issues can’t be solved simply by dialing the phone more? For someone in those offices struggling with confidence or even the right script, picking up the phone more might actually hurt the problem. And yet, that’s what they were being held accountable to. So, it’s no surprise that accountability quickly became a negative rather than a positive that helped goal achievement.

As a leader, If you want your people to actually follow through let them develop the solution. Seems odd, right? If they knew the solution, wouldn’t they just do it? That’s where leadership comes into play. If you can get good at asking impactful questions and helping the people you lead to identify the problem, they can come up with the solution. This is true for us too. The solution often lies behind some activity we know we should do but for some reason don’t. Fear, limiting beliefs and negative mental narratives all hinder our ability to follow through. Identify the reason and come up with an action that is both meaningful and doable with your mentee or yourself. Chances for following through are much greater. 

6 Steps for A Successful Accountability Relationship

We all need accountability to maximize our potential and achieve our definitions of success. Here are some simple steps for a successful accountability relationship.

  1. Accountability partners must believe in the goal-setter. Someone holding your hand and saying, “you can do this,” is incredibly valuable. 
  2. They must ask the goal-setter if they achieved the activity. Step one is important, but so is the follow-up.
  3. When an activity or big goal is reached, celebrate! It’s important to share the success with an accountability partner that has helped you get there. 
  4. Set the next activity commitment. 
  5. If a goal or activity is missed, it’s important to avoid shame. Most often, when you’re in that position, you’ve beat yourself up enough. Instead, a good accountability partner will help the goal-setter understand why they missed the mark and what got in the way so that those bad habits or interruptions can be avoided next time.
  6. They must reassure the goal-setter after a missed activity and check in more regularly until progress increases. When we own a commitment and feel supported, we are much more likely to embrace accountability and follow through. 

If you think accountability is a dirty word, you’re not alone. Take some time to reflect on your past accountability relationships and identify what was and wasn’t working. Did you feel heard? Encouraged? Did you make progress towards your goals? With the right partner, accountability can help you progress in the direction of your goals faster than you thought possible!