Why do some business people achieve enormous amounts of success while others fail miserably? Why do some people reach their goals while others conquer even the simplest milestones?
While there are certainly a number of factors involved, one of the key reasons some succeed and others don’t is the presence of accountability. When a person has a business accountability partner, they are much more likely to achieve their goals, reach success, and build the business they’ve dreamed of.
But what exactly is accountability and what does an accountability partner do?
In this article, we’re going to break down the how, what, and why of accountability partners so that you know how to implement the practice in your life.
What exactly is accountability? You’ve heard people talk about it, but do you really know what it means?
The great botanist and inventor George Washington Carver once said, “Ninety-nine percent of all failures come from people who have a habit of making excuses.”
And you know who makes excuses? Loners.
You know who can’t make excuses? People who have other people making sure they don’t make excuses.
This is the essence of accountability. If you have someone holding you accountable, you agree to report to that person, accepting responsibility for what you’ve done (or haven’t done). Accountability is having some else call you to give an account (a report) for what you have or haven’t done.
What Is An Accountability Partner?
Of course, it’s easy to get confused about what accountability is and how an accountability partnership works
Broadly put, an accountability partner is someone who holds you accountable for your actions. They challenge you to act in a certain way and you have to report back to them on your progress. If you fail to act in a particular way, they challenge you to do better, and in the same way, you hold them accountable for their actions. Accountability is a partnership, which means both you and your partner are adding value to each other and striving toward the same end.
Why do you need an accountability partner? Is it really that important for achieving success?
Here’s why. If you have an accountability partner, you’re 65% more likely to compete a task and you’ll increase your chance of success by up to 95%, according to a study done by The American Society of Training and Development (ASTD).
In other words, those who have an accountability partner achieve a significant amount more than those who go it alone.
Accountability vs. Ownership
Some people confuse accountability with ownership, but they are two very different things.
Accountability is extrinsic while ownership is intrinsic. Others hold you accountable, but only you can own up to your actions. Responsibility is up to you.
Here’s an example: let’s say your boss asks you to complete a project by the end of the day. He says he’s going to check with you right after lunch to see how things are going, and then he wants to meet with you at the end of the day to discuss. That’s accountability.
But then you have to own that project. You have to decide, “I’m going to make this a priority so that I have something solid when my boss checks in with me.” That’s ownership.
Accountability breeds both responsibility and ownership.
What Exactly Does An Accountability Partner Do?
This may all sound great and inspiring, but what will an accountability partner do for you? What actions make them so valuable. Specifically, they perform three distinct tasks.
They Monitor You
Your accountability partner will, in a sense, monitor you. When you meet with your partner, they’ll question you about what you did to get closer to your goals since the last meeting. When you know you have someone who will ask you these tough questions, that spurs you to push harder than you would on your own.
It’s often said that you can’t manage what you don’t measure. An accountability partner is a way of measuring and managing your life and business.
They Will Brainstorm And Share Ideas
Information is power, as they say, and your accountability partner can give you power. Your partner has different experiences than you, a knowledge base that you don’t have, and an objective perspective. They’ll share what they know with you and help you brainstorm how you can be more successful, creative, determined, etc. They can help you solve a problem you’re encountering and can help you think outside your normal boxes.
They Will Kickstart Your Motivation
Positivity and motivation are fragile states of mind, and one event can blow them away like a leaf in the wind. Reaching your goals takes time. Solving problems can be frustrating. When things don’t go your way, you can quickly sink into despair.
Putting yourself in the presence of someone who can kickstart your positivity and motivation with encouraging words and reality is the key.
Remember, It’s A Partnership
It’s one thing to hire a coach to hold you accountable, it’s another thing to find a partnership. Accountability Partnerships have the advantage of giving back to your partner in a way that help them as much as it helps you too. The “Partnership” has a feeling of being a sacred pact between two people who care enough about each other to make sure they are equally accountable.
The best part is that you don’t need a lot of skill or a college degree to be an accountability partner, since you are simply agreeing to care enough about your partner to hold them to their word, as they hold you to yours.
After about a month, you both will have become familiar enough with each other’s goals and dreams to begin building a friendship. A real friendship is built on trust which you will have already laid the foundation for throughout your sessions together.
The rich, rewarding relationship that comes from sharing deeply with another human being is a gift no one can measure but you. Be a good partner and you will get a good partner in return.
Keeping Yourself Accountable
Until you find the right accountability partner, you can work on keeping yourself accountable. Here are a few simple ways you can do that.
Question Your Questions
When things get tough, you may find yourself asking questions that start with “why.” While this is a common temptation, it makes it seem like you’re the victim. Asking “who” usually leads to you blaming others, and asking “when” can turn into “tomorrow.”
The best questions start with “what” or “how.” Like, “What can I contribute to the team meeting today?” Or, “How can I perform better today than I did yesterday?”
When you have an accountability partner, they’re the person who will be asking you these questions.
Take Full Ownership
Have you ever made sweeping statements like, “We need to get those numbers up,” or, “We should try to avoid this for next time,” but you’re actually trying to make a point about someone else on your team? Instead of just saying “you,” you swap it out with “we.”
Not only does that come across as condescending, but it lacks ownership. Who didn’t meet this month’s goals? You didn’t.
The important question is how can you make sure you meet next month’s goals? Taking this type of ownership is an important step in the accountability process.
Track Your Progress
It’s not enough to just make big goals. You need a way to ensure that you’re actually moving forward on all of your goals.
Make a chart. Create a spreadsheet. Do something that clearly tracks your progress toward your goals. Then look at that chart or spreadsheet every day. Score yourself. How are you doing? Are you improving?
When you get an accountability partner, they’ll be the one helping you to keep close watch on your progress.
How To Find An Accountability Partner
Now that you know know why an accountability partner is the best path to success, it’s time to find one. But how in the world do you find a partner that will benefit you?
You can’t just choose any upstanding person to be your partner. They have to have a certain set of characteristics.
Honesty: Your accountability partner needs to be brutally honest with you. If they sugar-coat things, they’re no good to you. That’s just playing to your ego. You won’t make progress with a flatterer as an accountability partner.
Reliability: What good is an accountability partner if they’re not present to hold you accountable? You need a partner who is reliable – they show up to every accountability meeting, they’re always prepared, and they always give sound advice.
Clarity: Your partner needs to be clear in their thoughts and their expectations of you as well as what you should expect of them. If the parameters and rules aren’t set up beforehand, this partnership won’t be as efficient as it could and should be.
Trustworthiness: This may seem obvious, but it needs to be stated. If you don’t trust a person – whether it’s because of their reputation or if they just rub you the wrong way – don’t partner up with them.
Competent: Your partner needs to have at least some of the characteristics that you lack. Do you get stressed by the little things? Find someone who sees the big picture. Do you have nearly unbreakable focus? Pair up with someone who sometimes does too many things at once. That way, they can fill in the gaps for you and you can do the same for them. Giving back may teach you something too.
How To Make The Most Of Your Accountability Partnership
Just having an accountability partner won’t do the trick. Once you have one, you’ll need to harness the full potential of this new relationship. Here are a few ways to make the most of it.
When you talk with your accountability partner, be specific about your goals, your concerns, and your questions. Be specific about the rewards of pursuing a goal as well as the consequences of not reach them.
Remember, honesty and transparency are keys to a successful accountability partnership.
Schedule a regular check-in time with your partner. Set up a weekly coffee shop meeting, Skype call, or even text message conversation. It doesn’t have to be weekly, but it should be on a regular basis and consistent.
It might be easy to just hang out with this person, talk, and say positive things to each other, but don’t forget about the whole reason for this partnership – goals. Each meeting, revisit the goals and the strategies you’ve discussed before and make sure you’re on track.
Using Accountability With Your Employees
Accountability offers huge benefits for your business. If you encourage your employees and co-workers to apply these accountability practices – as well as applying them yourself- your business will be better for it.
Why? Because people who are more successful, more productive, and ultimately happier will create a more positive environment and a more efficient business.
Aside from verbally suggesting your employees get accountability partners, you can also foster an environment that encourages and rewards taking ownership.
Here are some simple ways to do that:
- – Be open about your vision and goals for the company
- – Involve your employees in setting company goals and planning company activities
- – Explain why you make the decisions you make
- – Include them in the process of deciding how something is done
- – Delegate authority (not just work)
- – Trust them
- – Encourage problem solving
- – Give constructive feedback
- – Acknowledge them when they take ownership
- – Hold them accountable and let them hold you accountable in the workplace
Remember, most failures happen because somebody made an excuse. Accountability – when you do it right – makes excuses nearly impossible. Failure is almost impossible when it comes face to face with accountability.
Success is the only path left to take.
To find out how you can become an accountability partner and find someone who has similar goals and interests as you do, visit www.ResultsBreakthrough.com.