The Power of Accountability

Watch this video to learn more about how accountability can help you increase the rate at which you achieve your goals.

The Video Transcript

Do you need more accountability in your life? I know I do. 

There is a well known African proverb: 

‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’ That is deeply profound when it comes to accountability partners.

I’ve been using accountability partners for the past four or five years. And I can tell you that the quality of accountability partners, what you discuss and keeping that consistency, is really important in terms of leveraging and getting the results that you need much faster, much quicker, but with a certain level of quality.

And so I’m going to explore some of the insights that I have gained in order to help you get the right sort of accountability partners and have the right level of sessions as well.

Now, the first thing you need to remember when it comes to accountability partners is to make sure that they are ambitious, objective and integral. Let’s talk about this. You can use accountability partners in order to be more efficient, productive, and get results. 

If they are ambitious, it will pull you to want to do more. Again, if you’re seeing them getting results and if you see them thinking big and if you see them work a specific way that is going to rub off on you, you’re going to get to a point of making sure that you do more, and you do the best that you can.

Of course, if they are objective, they’re not going to succumb to your emotional state, and they’re going to get to a point of making sure that they help you do the things you said you were going to do. Again, emotions can get in the way. Your emotions are really useful when it comes to actually making decisions in terms of preferences. But again, if you want to get results, you have to be consistent enough in order to understand what the data is showing, so you know what to do next.

So objectivity is going to be key in terms of helping you move forward. There is also integrity. So when I’m talking about integrity I’m talking about their level of communication. Are they making sure that they want you to succeed as much as they want to succeed and vice versa? And so integrity is key when it comes to making sure that you have an effective accountability partnership.

The second thing to remember is that you can’t have someone as an accountability partner who is too close to you emotionally. This may be your partner. This may be a very close friend. This may even be a sibling.

What I would suggest is that, yes, you can have friends as accountability partners, but also find people within your network, people that are part of various different groups, because, again, if that level of objectivity is there, you get to a point of pulling each other to actually be accountable to each other rather than getting into each other’s emotional and messy business as well. 

You want to get to a point where you’re working with someone who can at least be objective with you. Now I’m not saying it’s impossible to work with your partner or with your sibling, but what I am saying there is a general theme and gist when it comes to that sort of thing, so bear that in mind.

And again, if you don’t have anyone else, then someone is better than no one. So go with your common sense, go with what feels right. But make sure they can pull you with those three things I spoke about at the beginning, ambition, objectivity and integrity. The third thing to think about is the method of communication and how frequently you want to meet with this person. Do you want to meet with them face to face?

Do you want to meet with them on the phone, either via Google, Skype or Zoom?

How do you want to meet with them? Again, this is something you both need to discuss and both are comfortable with. I meet with my accountability buddy on a weekly basis.

We do this in an alternate fashion where every two weeks we meet face to face and every two weeks we may meet digitally. And again, you have to understand what works for you. 

Personally, the whole sort of digital thing via Zoom or Google Meet works well for me. I’m not too fazed. Obviously it is better when you meet face to face because you can get the other interaction where you see their presence, their vibe and their body language.

However, again, communication is communication. So for me, a Google Meet or a Zoom works perfectly fine, but you have to understand what works for you. I wouldn’t do anything less than every two weeks because again, there needs to be a certain pull, and so weekly or biweekly creates that pressure in order to get stuff done. 

The fourth thing is to remember that you have to make sure you record what you talk about. If it’s not recorded, if it’s not measured, it doesn’t exist! So with that in mind, what we do is we use a Google spreadsheet. You can also use Trello or Notion to do this as well.

The things that are recorded include things like the objectives, the actual task, what you’ve actually done. So this will include things that you did really well, your challenges and lessons learned, so to speak.

In addition, you may also want to rate yourself out of ten in terms of how well you think you did and maybe get your accountability to do that for you as well. I don’t do this any more because I didn’t see it as effective. But maybe that’s the dynamic that you want to add to your accountability sessions yourself. So think about that for your future sessions. I’d also like to add that it’s important to make sure that you have some sort of status check, such as created, pending, completed, and closed. This helps you know where you’re at in terms of your specific task or project. Don’t add so many tasks where it becomes ridiculous, but I usually do anywhere between one and four at most; on average between two or three. 

Again, you need to think sensibly about how you can effectively prioritize. And again, if you haven’t checked out my priorities video you can check it out here. You can learn more about how you can be more effective from that standpoint as well.

The fifth thing to consider is to make sure that you give yourself enough time to speak. Now, I’ve seen all these different videos and texts that state that your accountability sessions should be a quick half an hour; in my mind, I’m just like half an hour! That’s nowhere near enough time. If I am mentoring or coaching someone, half an hour may not be enough time to really be effective.

And so for me personally, I have a minimum of one hour dedicated to each person because we really go deep in terms of what we need to focus on.

This totals two hours, at least for me and my accountability buddy, to make sure that we’re covering all angles and uncovering things in depth. Because if you don’t do that, it becomes superficial and a tick box exercise. This is about making sure there is depth to what you’re doing and making sure that there is efficiency and effectiveness moving forward in terms of your tasks. So make sure that you spend or give yourself enough time for your sessions. 

The sixth thing to remember is that don’t just rely on your sessions to actually give feedback. There’s also the other days in between where you can actually share successes, share failures, ask questions, because if you do that, you’re building rapport with this person.

And again, it reminds them of what they need to do as well; this is how this feedback loop works. So use the in-between time to actually make sure you’re communicating as well. Now, you may not have consolidated time to do this in between your sessions, but don’t be afraid to do it. Make sure you have that as an agreement principle when you actually meet with your accountability partner as well. 

Bonus tip.

Make sure that as an accountability partner you have coach-like tendencies. I’m quite biased as a qualified coach, but it’s really important to make sure that you have this because it serves the difference between having good accountability sessions and really rubbish ones. Now I’m not saying you have to be a coach the whole way through. There is going to be a level of mentorship and advising, but in the same instance, if you have the right level of challenge and support, then again, you’re going to get the best outcomes.

If you ask really deep, effective or powerful questions, you get to a point where you’re going to get more honest answers. If you’re at a point where you’re using not just active listening, but deep listening, again, you’re going to make the person feel like they’re being heard, and you’re going to allow them to express themselves authentically. 

So remember, having coach-like tendencies as an accountability partner is so fundamental. Now with having accountability partners and having accountability sessions it increases your productivity to a serious level, yet it shouldn’t get to a point where you actually get burnout. So in the next video I’m going to be talking about how you can avoid burnout to make sure that you still remain productive and do not damage your health. Make sure you subscribe, so you can check out videos on emotional intelligence, career development and life management.

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