ACCOUNTABILITY: It isn’t sexy – but it works

It’s a pretty simple concept that will make or break your success, but it’s got a bad rap. Just saying the word out loud – ACCOUNTABILITY — I can feel my defensive hackles rising. And I know better!

According to the dictionary, it’s about accounting for one’s actions. In the business world, it’s used to define expected outcomes and performance goals according to a timeline.

Here’s what it’s not: nagging, judging, forcing. Guilt trips.

COACHING DEFINITION: Am I Doing What I Said I Want To Do?

Accountability is a critical, fundamental tool for empowering people to make real and lasting change. I use accountability every day in many different ways to keep clients motivated and moving towards what they want to accomplish. It’s so basic, it sometimes seems invisible!

The art of accountability in coaching pivots on reflecting an individual’s goals, learning styles and motivation points. An accountability program which fits the person is a powerful tool for success.

Why It Works

Accountability in coaching works because:

  • It creates an external stimulus for transitioning from idea to reality
  • It’s a measuring tool for action and progress
  • It incorporates learning

Ultimately, it’s a structure which empowers people to make meaningful and lasting change.

Three Key Ingredients for Effective Accountability

When you commit to practicing accountability, there are three vital elements: Identifying a metric, tracking, and reporting.

METRIC: What will you measure/observe?

Identify what specific action you can track that will help you achieve your goal. Is your goal to write a book? Writing for 10 minutes a day would be a good metric. Trying to get more exercise? A daily walk may be your metric. Want more clients? Your metric might be reaching out to 10 prospects each week. Don’t make your metric “getting five more clients each week,” because that’s not within your control.

For the best chance at success, start small. Remember last month’s blog? Starting small helps guarantee success because you bypass the part of your brain that goes into overwhelm with big changes.

TRACKING: How will you keep track of what you are measuring?

  • Write it on calendar
  • Create a tracking sheet
  • Daily email/hourly text with your accountability partner
  • Record in journal
  • Maintain an end-of-the-day accomplishment list

Pro tip: try to make it a game. You are more likely to follow through if you make it fun!

REPORTING: Who will you tell?

Pairing up with an accountability partner is the critical ingredient for effective accountability, as well as effective coaching. But you’ve got to have the right person for the job. What qualities make a great Personal Accountability Partner?

  • A relationship of mutual respect and trust
  • Both parties willing and able to give honest, direct feedback
  • No judgment
  • Mutual encouragement without attachment to the outcome

What do you report?

  • Actions taken AND not taken
  • What am I learning?
  • How do I want to apply that learning going forward?

Accountability to Reach Goals and Fulfill Potential

By providing an external structure for measuring action and evaluating your learning process, accountability is a powerful way to discern whether the actions you take are creating the new improved reality you seek.



1 reply
  1. Molly
    Molly says:

    Love this! I recently was told about an organization whose leadership team won’t use the word “accountability” because it has negative connotations tied to it. I am going to share this article, specially how you define accountability as a fundamental tool for making change. If that organization wants to make the changes they speak of, their plan has to include accountability.


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