One of the most common reasons people reach out to me for my Coaching and Advising services is accountability. “Don, I need someone to hold me accountable,” is the question. My response varies, but the bottom line is this, I can help you improve accountability, but the actual ability to holding yourself accountable is internal. In other words, ultimately, you must hold yourself accountable. If over the long term, you need someone to do that for you, then there are other issues at play, and the lack of accountability is but a symptom.
So how can someone build the skills for holding themselves accountable? Read on my friends, the answer is simple:
Before we go further let’s start with a simple definition; what is accountability. Accountability is nothing more than holding yourself responsible for your actions. When you do that there are no excuses. The dog didn’t eat your homework; it isn’t the government’s fault or anyone else; you own it. At the same time, you are the one who commits yourself to accomplish certain things and then actually does that. Again, no excuses.
So how does one become accountable and then show accountability? I almost always suggest a combination of writing things down and using the 5-Why’s. The 5 Why’s are a root cause discovery techniques that in simple terms, is exactly what it sounds like. You keep asking why until you get the root cause answer.
When you write things down, to some, this is a form of journaling, you can begin to identify patterns. Patterns help you find why. Couple that answer with five whys, and you not only know what caused you not to accomplish something, you also know what behavior to change.
Writing down what you do daily is what I recommend. At the end of the day, do the following:
- Write down everything you did that day. Do this hour by hour for each day
- Review what you’ve written
- Look at the gaps of time between what you have written down. Ask a simple question, “what happened here?” Was this wasted time or something else. Why did that happen? And ask Why again and again until you are at the real reason why.
- Look at the activities you have for the other times of the day. Were they adding value? If yes, still ask why as this is important to understand. If no, once again, the five why drill.
Once you’ve accomplished this, ask yourself more questions.
- What more could you have done to accomplish what you wanted to or said you would?
- What must you change?
- What did you do that allowed you to accomplish the things you did? (Celebrate these, even if it’s an out loud “Woo Hoo!” of self-congratulations.)
- What help do you need to become more accountable?
- Who do you know can help you? (bad grammar but a legendary local spin on an old-time commercial)
Building accountability is as much about skills as it is attitude, desire, and work. It doesn’t just happen, and many of you could use help. That is why there are people like me who Coach people for a living. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. As a client of mine once said to me, “I resisted hiring you because I thought it would be an admission that I wasn’t good enough.” When I asked him why he did hire me, he said, “I saw what I was missing out on, and you helped get me there.”