Steven's Blog

Taking responsibility for your own accountability

As a consultant, I coach managers and executives regularly. We all need coaches because like the best athletes in the world, coaches push us to go beyond our current capabilities and do better. They help us confront challenges and fears and overcome them so we can improve.

I hold my coaching clients accountable. When a client agrees to do something before we meet next, I expect him to follow through or otherwise seek help. Recently, a coaching client of mine committed to a change in the way he was managing staff. At our next meeting when I asked  how it went, he told me he didn’t do it. When I asked why not, I got a barrage of excuses–no time, wasn’t sure exactly how to do it, not convinced that it is actually effective, etc. I was not impressed.

Being accountable is not only about achieving what you committed to do, but also being responsible to act when you see you are going off the rails.We all make commitments to ourselves and others and fail to execute from time to time. I tell my clients that this is natural–change and improvement is hard–but I insist that they proactively reach out to me for help when they are going off the rails.  A leader is also often a part-time coach. If you are a leader, you should insist upon the same for your staff when you hold them accountable.

But how about when the only person to whom we are accountable is ourselves? We all have goals we set for ourselves that we would like to achieve. When you go off the rails, which is natural, how do you respond? Do you make excuses blaming other people or circumstances out of your control, or do you seek the cause and try to address it? Do you seek help or advice from other people?

Failure to execute is not a failure in itself. Like I said, change is hard. Success or failure is a matter of how you respond. Hold yourself responsible for your own accountability. Take action for yourself. If you can do consistently, that is the path to improvement and true success.


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