When I coach Business leaders, Sales Professionals or executives, “Make me more Accountable” is usually one of the main reasons they hired me. It takes quite a few steps to make that happen. That is because accountability comes from more than just being accountable. It involves a variety of aspects of control that you have over how work gets done. The more influence you believe you have, the more accountability you are able to have.
Accountability can be developed as you begin to control various behaviors in your professional life. These are:
- Honesty and Integrity
- Clear Communication skills
- Ability to change and adapt
- Collaborative personality
- Ability to solve problems
Each of those behaviors or attributes are developed both over time and within your professional environment. There are varying levels of difficulty in achieving them and most often cannot be accomplished alone. For example, building trust from your co-workers takes effort and integrity. You need to work at it by doing things like rewarding your co-workers, not being viewed as taking advantage of them and giving credit when credit is due instead of taking it. The most difficult of those behaviors to develop is a collaborative personality. You must cooperate instead of competing. Instead of looking out for number one, you must look out for your team. For many, that is counter intuitive. You not only must trust, you must play well with others. That may not be as easy as it sounds.
There is an acronym you can use to help develop accountability. That acronym is SIMPLE. You must:
- Set expectations
- Invite Commitment
- Measure Progress
- Provide Feedback
- Link outcomes to consequences
- Evaluate effectiveness
You must do that not only for yourself but for those on your team. Building accountability includes more than just yourself.
You have to demonstrate accountability in everything you do, all the time. This is not a behavior you can do some of the time. It is a behavior you must do all of the time. Some things you can begin doing to develop and demonstrate your accountability are:
1. Be specific. Many leaders develop a bad habit and it exists in almost all cultures. That habit is being ambiguous. Ambiguity is not a value you want or need. Yet I constantly read of businesses that want leaders who can operate with ambiguity. My advice is to avoid those roles. Be specific in what you say and do. If you say you will do something today, do it today, not tomorrow morning.
2. Use a glide path approach. Instead of all or nothing set milestone targets for projects. Not only will this make your goals more attainable, it will help your team meet their goals more easily too.
3. Be reliable. Being accountable is about you doing what you say you will do; be reliable. Choose the commitments you make carefully and be specific about when you can accomplish something. Don’t make promises you can’t keep.
4. Remember the magic words. This is not abracadabra. These are What, Who, and when. If you use those words then you will clearly understand what needs to be done, by who and when it is needed. If you don’t know those 3 things you are setting yourself up for a fail.
Even with the knowledge of these tools, many still need some help in achieving accountability. That is where having a Coach can be a great benefit to you. We have to be honest with ourselves, changing our behaviors is not easy, if it was we wouldn’t have a great need to change what we do because we would quickly adapt our behaviors to something more positive.
In the 1960’s a Physician named Maxwell Maltz published a research paper stating that change takes about 21 days to develop a new habit. He wrote, “These, and many other commonly observed phenomena tend to show that it requires a minimum of about 21 days for an old mental image to dissolve and a new one to jell.” Every self-help guru on the planet and some very highly regarded ones jumped on that thought. It has been proven to be false. Phillipa Lally published her research in the European Journal of Social Psychology, and she wrote “ On average, it takes more than two months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact. And how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances.” In her study, it took anywhere from 18 days to 254 days for people to form a new habit. Few people have the dedication to take that long to change a behavior alone.
Accountability is a powerful behavior. Getting the right assistance, with the correct tools, can make you more accountable too.