Overwhelmingly when I ask people in organizations of all sizes if they made a New Year’s Resolution they say “no” and when I ask them why, almost unanimously the answer is “because we never achieve them”. So, rather than face failure, people just give up and don’t even set goals – never admitting that ensures the ultimate failure.  The sad part is that if you don’t at least set goals, you cheat yourself out of the opportunity to make improvements.

In the immortal words of Zig Zigler, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time”.

Last week we gave you some pointers about how to set well-defined, achievable goals that stretch you to achieve things you never thought possible. This week we’re taking it up a notch by discussing the importance of accountability in achieving results.

When most of us think about being held accountable for something, we think about being in trouble. You’ve heard it before, maybe you’ve even said something like, and “Who messed this up! This is not acceptable and someone’s going to answer for this!” This is indicative of the traditional definition of Accountability – looking for who’s responsible for a failure.

But if you really want to get motivated or motivate others to achieve results, the key is to turn accountability from something punitive to something empowering! The OZ Principle by Roger Connors defines accountability as, “A personal choice to rise above one’s circumstances and demonstrate the ownership necessary for achieving desired results.” In other words, it’s about inspiring others to take responsibility for the outcomes they desire.

If you’ve ever known anyone who’s gone to Weight Watchers or Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), you know they have a whole support system based on accountability – but using the new definition, not the traditional, punitive one. As a matter of fact, in both of these organizations, participants are required to set specific, measurable, attainable goals, and they are assigned an accountability partner, a coach, who supports them when they slip and who acts as a cheerleader when they succeed. The accountability partner’s primary role is to:

  • Recognize when you’re in jeopardy of backsliding and help you take actions to prevent it.
  • Help you take personal responsibility for the decisions you make rather than blaming others.
  • Help you internalize your own personal, motivating reasons for wanting to achieving your goals
  • Help you identify the most productive actions you can take to achieve the results you want rather than wasting time on lots of unproductive ones.

Accountability is hard, whether it’s associated with personal accountability for achieving your own goals or accountability for achieving your business goals. But if you  make a personal choice to rise above the obstacles and challenges that get in the way and take ownership for achieving the desired results, through the use of S M A R T goals, a well defined action plan and an accountability partner you can actually achieve them!