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Accountability – a question of discipline?

Person signing document signifying accountability

To start this #weeklyNRG, a definition.

Accountability is the acceptance of responsibility for one's own actions.

Management consultant Todd Herman defined personal accountability as

"... being willing to answer… for the outcomes resulting from your choices, behaviors, and actions."

We know that the people who are very accountable, those who understand and accept the consequences of their actions are seen as more trustworthy. This accountability leads to developing greater relationships with peers, team members and family. It can also save time and money, whilst cultivating a sense of achievement and personal respect for oneself.

In a business context, many organisations don’t have enough of a laser focus on being accountable and getting the results. In fact, according to Prosen (2006) it was number two on the top five crippling habits of embedding culture.

Who are you accountable to? How good are you at being accountable? Are you part of a team, an organisation? Do you have multiple pay masters? How good is your business at holding everyone to account? How much accountability do you put on yourself?

That last couple of questions aren’t easy things to do. (Thank goodness or I’d be out of a job. 😂)

According to the internet to improve accountability you need to

  1. Understand your role and your responsibilities with crystal clear clarity.

  2. Focus on the result you are responsible for. Give ownership of the specific required output to a single person.

  3. Be honest with yourself, with others about what needs to change, what you need to do to get the result.

  4. Measure and keep score on your activities. Consistently.

  5. Make it public. Discuss your desired results with others. Sometimes we all need a little support to keep on track. Grab an accountability buddy.

  6. Check your procrastination. Amongst other things procrastinating is a sign that your accountability is slipping.

  7. Don’t over commit. Check you have the band width to get the result.

  8. Celebrate and record your accountability successes.

I also think something else is missing…a secret ingredient that makes accountability easier. Discipline. More importantly self-discipline.

It’s about pushing yourself onward no matter whats happening to you or how you are feeling. If you have self-discipline, you are able to put long term benefits before short term gains.

Think about the times where you have been ultra-disciplined. What did you change? How did you behave? Why did you stop being disciplined.

The good news, self – discipline is a behavior that can be learnt, that can be improved.

Areas such as improving your organizational and planning abilities. Becoming more focused on sticking to a schedule. Turn off distractions. Remove your bad time-wasting habits in the day. Identifying what might be an obstacle and planning to for it. Setting a very SMART goals. All these activites can all help to improving self-discipline.

In this ‘Year of Greatness’, why not try to see how much we can achieve if we work our self-discipline and improve our accountability. As always, let me know your thoughts.



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