Accountability: Can It Be Any Less Sexy?
“People won’t like me if I hold them accountable.”
I hear this every now and again and I understand the inner turmoil we feel when we have to point out to another that they are not doing what they agreed to. We may feel like we’ve been put in the position of the unlikable Hall Monitor who wields their power unfairly. Being a leader can be uncomfortable at times.
Here’s the thing: people want to be held accountable. They want another person to know what they are striving to accomplish, to ask how it’s going, question their progress, and help them to realize what might be interfering in their ability to deliver.
Many times when people hire me they list being held accountable as a major reason for working with me. The coach in me says, “eh?,” because there are so many more exciting things I can provide but this is what they want, and know that they need, in order to achieve their goals.
It’s like baking soda in the kitchen. By adding it to the mix you create growth and momentum.
Know that when you are holding another accountable you are not disciplining them. You are asking them to give you an account of…whatever has been agreed upon. As a leader, this is an important role for you to play.
I know for myself there are times when I’m not excited about a particular task or project and the only thing that keeps me focused is the knowledge that someone is going to check in and ask how everything went. My integrity won’t allow me to report back that I “didn’t feel like doing it” even though I said I would do it.
Most people value integrity, relationships and/or their reputation. These values are what make accountability work. We are designed to act in accordance with our values and suffer if we don’t.
Hitting a big goal is difficult. It’s difficult for us to stay focused, to do the tasks that bring us no joy, and stay committed over the long haul. But accountability keeps our head (and our efforts) in the game.
If you are being asked, or it is your responsibility as a leader, to hold another person accountable start with a solid foundation.
- Determine what you are holding them accountable for.
- Set a time frame for when you will check it. Is it just at the end or at a regular frequency?
- Agree upon how you will respond to their account. What would or would not work for them? Some people ask me to remain neutral while others want me to be positive and encouraging, even if they fell short of the mark.
Being an accountability source is a powerful gift you can give to another. Don’t shy away from it because of old stories you have about “being called on the carpet” or failing to meet goals. Change your perspective on the service you are providing and allow yourself to support another in achieving greatness. This is what will make you great as a leader.