The New Year is long over now; did you get that raise you were wanting? How about the promotion, new title or corner office? If you did, congratulations! If not, did you blame others for the lack of recognition, or did you look in the mirror? Too many people in life look to others for motivation, discipline and accountability. Are you this type of person? This year, try looking at doing things in a new way. This year, hold yourself accountable to higher standards than would normally be expected of you by others. Personal accountability is not a new concept and more than likely you have been asked to be accountable in some form. Let’s take a look at how your true personal accountability is applied in your life. Then compare the differences of an accountable person and a non-accountable person. And finally, review ways to begin to improve yourself by following a few easy steps towards accountability.
Qualities of an accountable person
From “Always Increase Your Confidence”, Dan Sullivan, Founder and President of the Strategic Coach™ program (www.strategiccoach.com), developed a list of qualities that define an “accountable person” in their program for entrepreneurs. These simple, yet powerful qualities are what I strive for daily and use as personal motivators:
- Willingness to be tested, measured and judged
- Willingness to be proven wrong and deficient in exciting new ways
- Willingness to face unpredictability and uncomfortable changes
- Willingness to changes habits – from unsuccessful to successful
- Willingness to recognize and learn from other’s superiority
- Willingness to risk one’s beliefs to discover even better ones
- Willingness to start over again – and again and again.
Dan does a great job of describing several ways to build accountability into your life and career. By following the above qualities, I have become aware that if I desire a raise or promotion at work or a better life at home, it is up to me to make it happen. I can’t sit back and let others keep me on track or push me to bigger and better things. Thinking about all of the successful people that I know and have known, I can see now that they have been separated by the simple fact that they hold themselves to a higher standard than others. They exemplify the qualities Dan created and they continue to personally develop and improve, in turn passing those that don’t hold themselves accountable.
Tactics of a non-accountable person
On the other side of the coin, Dan also developed a list of tactics of a “non-accountable person.” These tactics are negative and stunt personal growth for people using them. I work hard to avoid these tactics:
- Undermine standards
- Avoid measurements
- Ridicule excellence
- Criticize initiative
- Demand equality
- Avoid commitment
- Talk abstractions
- Avoid specifics
There are times that it is hard to avoid using these tactics. Sometimes they seem easier than following one of Dan’s qualities. But, in the long run, they are damaging. Prolonged use of these tactics can lead to distrust from your team, fewer requests for your opinions, loss of status and even eventual loss of your job. That is why it is important to keep these in mind when reporting to superiors or developing your personal game-plan. Make it a point to identify the times you employ non-accountable tactics so that you can make sure to avoid them in the future.
Holding yourself accountable
The path to becoming personally accountable doesn’t happen overnight. The goal is to be patient and understand that you are not perfect. Dan Sullivan has done the hard work of determining what an accountable person looks like. I recommend following these steps in order to become more personally accountable:
- Find examples in your professional and personal life of times when you have shown a quality of an accountable person
- Find examples of when you’ve employed the tactics of a non-accountable person
- Create a 90 day action plan, with specific steps to eliminate the negative tactics and to develop the positive qualities
- Follow-up after each quarter on successes and challenges and create a new 90 day plan with new objectives for continued personal development and accountability.
- Seek feedback from supervisor and/or mentor to help develop the plans and stay on track with your development
When you first create your list of examples, you may be amazed at how many tactics you employ or how few qualities you have. Conversely, you may be surprised that you have several qualities and don’t employ many tactics. The trick is to make sure that you can identify each, so that you can eliminate the negative tactics and continue to improve your development through personal accountability.
By following the above steps and discovering where you need to improve, you will find that your personal standards are probably higher than many of your peers. This will help you stand out in the ultra-competitive world we live in. You can have the best education and the most training, but if you are not holding yourself accountable, you are doing yourself an injustice. If you don’t hold yourself accountable…who will?
Written by Eric Hunt, Director of Client Relations, Boomer Consulting, Inc. www.boomer.com