One of the reasons executives and business owners hire a coach is for accountability. I hear my clients comment that this is a huge value that they receive from our coaching relationship. But I need to be honest about something here; I cannot hold anyone accountable. Let me explain.
Most people equate accountability with bad behavior, poor performance, and negative consequences. Business owners and managers often talk about their need to do a better job of holding their people accountable. The idea here is that someone should be responsible for imposing consequences when tasks fail to get done or goals are not accomplished.
As an employer you certainly have the right to hire and fire, and you have the right to reward or impose negative consequences within reason. This is sometimes referred to as “positional power.” I have the power to enact consequences (good or bad) because of my position (i.e. boss or owner.)
As a coach, I have no “positional power.” But yet, my clients feel like I hold them accountable. Why is that?
The truth is that all of us have freedom of choice. My clients can choose to follow my advice or not. My clients can choose to hire me or fire me. So how do I hold them accountable?
Accountability and Freedom of Choice
We must understand that freedom of choice is actually the foundation of accountability. Sometimes we think we “have-to” do something. But honestly, there are no “have-to’s.” Everything we do in life is a choice. Even in an environment where there are requirements of you, you still have choice.
Also, there are always consequences to our choices. We do not need someone from the outside imposing consequences to make us do something. We act because we choose to act, and the consequences fall where they may.
What’s my point?
The point is that accountability is about ownership. It’s about owning your choices and owning your outcomes. I choose to do things that I may not particularly want to do in the moment, because I know they will lead to other things that I truly want! In other words, those choices get me the outcomes I want.
Accountability is About Ownership
So, in reality, no one can really “hold me accountable.” I must hold myself accountable. I must take ownership of my outcomes and my future.
Can others help me? Absolutely. They can encourage me. They can remind me of the outcomes and future that I want. They can create checkpoints and reminders to help me to not lose focus on the things I REALLY want. They can be a sounding board to help me navigate frustration, discouragement, or difficulty.
Others are very important to me. But first, I must own my goals and my choices. And, I must own my outcomes. And when my outcomes fall short of what I really want, I must own the task of learning from my shortfalls. And I must own the challenge of trying again. John Maxwell calls this “failing forward.”
If I take ownership in this way, I am holding myself accountable. If and when I think I need it, I solicit others (e.g. a coach) to help me hold myself accountable. They don’t really hold me accountable, they help me hold myself accountable. They don’t own my outcomes, I own my outcomes and I solicit their help so that I am better equipped to achieve my goals.
Making Accountability Work for You
Do yourself a favor. Get clear on the outcomes you want in business and life. Face reality and be honest with yourself. Make a plan that will move you toward your goals. Then execute with focus and consistency.
If you need help gaining clarity and setting goals, hire a coach.
If you need help creating a realistic action plan to achieve your goals, hire a coach.
If you need support and encouragement and guidance in order to stay on track, hire a coach.
With intentionality and discipline, most people can accomplish these things on their own. But a coach will likely help you be more effective and efficient in achieving your vision. Contact us for a free, no pressure consultation to see if coaching with us might be right for you.