top of page

What does accountability mean?

Do you truly hold yourself accountable to the commitments you make? Maybe. But, maybe not.

One of my favourite things about coaching - and my list of favourite things is loooooong - is how often themes show up with different clients at the same time. Often it seems that the synchronicity of the universe sends a message out to all my clients and says the same thing is going to make them struggle or drive them crazy that week.

This week’s theme seems to be about accountability. defines accountability as: the state of being accountable, liable, or answerable. It amazes me how often we are willing to give our accountability away. Or at least try to...Just listen to any politician. What I find funny about that is, I have never heard a politician say during a campaign that they will only do what they are promising if, and only if, everyone agrees with them or if no surprises or problems arise. Yet we talk about campaign promises, not promises with caveats. Do you think the people at Weight Watchers say they are going to lose weight OR they are going to lose weight if, over the next six months, they never have a craving; are never tired and never have to eat a meal made by another person? Good luck with that. I think back to 2009 when we were trying to grow the bottom line for a small organization I was leading. The sales team would come in and say, “the economy is in the tank”, “our competitors are laying off 20% of their staff, “no one wants to spend money on training right now”. Now, all that was in fact true. Remember, I said it was 2009. Hello, recession! I would look at the team and say, well, you’re sales people. Now that we have analyzed the environment, how are we going to hold ourselves accountable to our targets and commitments within the reality of the current environments? When did accountability and commitment start to mean only if the environment is perfect??

If my clients are struggling with a particular goal I can guarantee you they will start their story with an explanation of why the blame lays outside their locus of control. I coach some very senior, smart, capable people. Yet if someone or something is in their way they begin the story with, if this person would change their approach then I could...What I know about this oh-so very common approach is it makes life, work and accomplishment hard…really frickin hard.

When our mirror is pointing outward, at something or someone, we have relinquished both our control and accountability. I fundamentally believe EVERY situation - yes EVERY situation - exists in some way to evolve us, strengthen us and have us learn so we can connect to the best that resides within us. I’m sure some of you, as you read this, are saying in your head, yeah, but you don’t know. Let me stop you right there. I get that person is an ass or that situation is hard. I GET IT. And I still believe if you place your success outside of your control and accountability, things are going to be tough no matter what.

So turn the mirror around. Look within and ask yourself, what am I meant to be doing in this situation as it is? If no one changes, if the environment doesn’t get better, if the client doesn’t suddenly become nice, what do you need to do; what do you need to find within yourself to drive your desired outcome? In spite of circumstances, how can you take back control of this situation? The tricky part is, when we turn the mirror around and ask those questions we often don’t like the answer. We don’t like what we are being called to do. And that, my friends, is why leadership isn’t for everyone.

As you ponder the drive toward the end of 2018 and the commitments and goals you set, turn the mirror around and get to it.



bottom of page