Ownership. Responsibility. Accountability.
Are these words interchangeable? Can you have one without the other? Of the three, what do you value most?
By the title of this post you can guess what I rank highest in importance.
Ownership and responsibility, well, these are often shared, and as I’ve experienced, typically managed in a disproportionate fashion.
Accountability? That’s all you. Answering to yourself and your obligations. A very personal matter, with large implications (especially when it’s lacking in an organization), and yet we don’t have to go it alone.
Enter Accountability Partnerships
I first heard about accountability partnerships in the professional sense from a group of successful women business owners in my network, clearly at the top of their games, but still seeking more. This group would meet regularly to update each other on the progress of their projects and goals, with the simple idea of choosing transparency over complacency.
It is natural to want to hide in periods of failure. It can be the same in times of accomplishment. When things are going well it’s harder to address your weaknesses and testify to the areas in which you’d like to improve. There are times you’ll need a reason to stay on track and keep momentum. An excuse to avoid future excuses.
That’s the idea of an accountability partner or group. It goes beyond mentorship or advising, by offering both guidance and encouragement, with the added bonus of a mutual commitment to upping your games and pushing farther.
How much easier is it to exercise and eat right, say, if you have a special event or beach vacation on the horizon? Or to save money when there’s an actual some "thing" you are saving and working toward, not just general good practices.
What if for your more everyday grinding needs, or long-term stretch goals, you had someone you knew would be holding you, pushing you, and with you each step. And someone who could also benefit from the same level of dedication from you, in their world.
Making Your Match
In the article, Forget Mentors, Find an Accountability Partner by Leigh Stringer on QuietRev.com, the following tips are recommended in landing an accountability partner:
“1. Find someone you trust to be your accountability partner (a different personality from you is good, maybe better).
2. Talk to them about your goals.
3. Get specific with them about actions you will want to take to meet your goals as well as consequences/rewards for taking or not taking them.
4. Set up regular check-in times (this can be a text message, no need to meet every time).
5. Revisit goals and strategies every once in a while to make sure you are on track.”
I would say that those pursuing an accountability partner already have some level of motivation inside — they want to get better. I’d recommend seeking to match similar intensities for maximum results.
Remember, if you wanted a coach to be on your case day and night, you’d hire for that and expect nothing less. This is a partnership, meaning you’re in it together, and it’s important to have clarity around the expectations and desired outcomes.
Building Better Partnerships
Beyond keeping momentum during times of flow and growth, what about when you lose your way on your own and seek direction? I think accountability partners are here for that too.
In my values and belief systems, I look up for navigation — look in for validation — and look around for inspiration. It is at these times when I truly hope that I’ve surrounded myself in the right company.
Many say you’re the sum of to whom you spend the most time. Your personal and professional networks create your reality, and influence how you see yourself and react to your daily challenges.
In the book “How Will You Measure Your Life?” by Clayton Christensen (and in his subsequent works), he talks about the concept of what “jobs” we hire products to do, and what we are “hired” to do and perform in the lives of others.
In this concept, it’s not about what we want, but how we can home in on what is important to those we are seeking to nurture and strengthen, and then building our time and efforts around those things for more meaningful engagements and relationships.
A strong accountability partnership or group will start on a basis of caring, and thrive on the promise of authenticity when it comes to feedback, guidance and redirection when needed.
A close friend will comfort you in times of need. An accountability partner will make you uncomfortable as you rebuild your strength and achieve your next breakthrough.
In the end we all want to simply be acknowledged. Don’t leave it to chance. Add an accountability partner to your mix of mentors, sponsors, and friends, and you’ll have someone who won’t let you forget your value...your successes are bound.
Why Accountability Partners Beat Mentors via Inc.
Why an Accountability Buddy Is Your Secret Weapon for Faster Growth via Entrepreneur
Image source: Unsplash.com