While there are numerous definitions of “accountability” most explanations point to one’s willingness to accept responsibility for one’s actions. Other explanations reference the words blame, victim, liability, and answerability. While there is some truth in these heavily emotive words, simply put, being accountable is doing what you say you will do: staying true to your word by following through on your commitments and (here’s the bull’s eye) showing up.
In it’s purest form, accountability is made up of an obligation + an action + a specified other person. Showing up for the specified other person is the crux of true accountability. It’s more than just getting the job done, it’s about having a dedicated individual care about whether you’re achieving your goals.
The American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) did a study on accountability and found that you have a 65% chance of completing a goal if you commit to someone. And if you have a specific accountability appointment with a person to whom you have committed, you will increase your chance of success by up to 95%.
Why does being accountable to a coach work?
The two factors that effectively help people achieve their goals are incentive and accountability. A coach fulfils the latter part of the equation. As human beings, we are wired to please others. That’s why being accountable to only one’s self is simply not enough. We need consequences and praise.
Having a set appointment with your coach on a regular basis to report back on your action list delivers the necessary motivation for further effort. Clear targets and deadlines provide a healthy amount of pressure to succeed. If you don’t follow through, you’ll have to face your accountability partner and admit failure – not an easy task for the ego.
Setting a specific appointment or meeting time also creates a social expectation which is another powerful driver to keep you focused.
The added benefit of working with a coach is that you’ll get the help you need to put structures, processes, and systems in place to measure and record your progress. The routine of delivering on your promises will seal the thrill of achievement and success.
What are the key benefits?
1. Greater clarity and direction
By identifying explicit outcomes that are crucially important to you helps to capture better-quality opportunities. It also helps you say no to things that don’t support these outcomes. Everything else is eliminated, delegated or outsourced. This accountability focus will keep you on track and productive.
Recommended reading: Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
2. Becoming results-focused
When you are accountable to achieve a specific, measurable result you become more intentional and focused about where to spend your time. If you are reporting results to an accountability partner, your time and energy is focused on delivery. You will find that your morale, momentum and motivation will flourish daily.
3. Effective time management
All of us have only 24 hours in a day. When we become accountable for delivering certain results, we start managing time effectively: we take ownership of our hours by setting clear boundaries, saying no more frequently, and exerting more influence over our own schedules.
4. Managing procrastination
One of the key benefits of working with a coach is managing procrastination. If left unchecked, it can leave you feeling stuck and trapped for days, weeks or even months. This is a problem that everyone faces from time to time: you are definitely not alone. Learning to recognize and manage procrastination is vital in one’s attempts to alleviate the doom and gloom that it leaves in its wake.
5. Setting achievable goals
It’s easy to set goals but unless they are unambiguous, measurable and have a deadline, they often fall by the wayside. A coach can help you set goals that matter to you and create a plan and path to achieve them: this will transform how you think and work. Regular check-ins ensure you stay focused and on track.
When obstacles or challenges occur, the coach in your corner will help you create an action plan to move forward. A continual review of performance and progress and tweaking efficiency levels will keep you accountable to the results that are meaningful to you.
Sign a PACT with yourself
By definition, a PACT is an agreement between two people. In my opinion, one should aim to make a PACT with themselves too: one that is clear and meaningful. I have deliberately assigned the words personal, action, commitment, and timetable to the acronym to make the word PACT explicit and personal.
Thus, this is a commitment contract, a binding agreement you sign with yourself to ensure that you follow through with your goals. Remember to keep timeframes flexible because unforeseen challenges can force you to veer off track: this is not failure; this is simply an obstacle to step over and resume your plan.
Pro tip: Use actual dates on your timetable. An action plan should be a living document.
In my experience as a coach, when you make people accountable for their actions, you’re effectively teaching them to value their work. And having someone to share the journey, keeping you motivated, cheerleading you on and cracking the whip – makes all the difference.