what is an accountability partner

What Is an Accountability Partner? Do You Need One?

What is an accountability partner? Let’s go back in time to find the first person who held you accountable—your mom (or dad).

What chores were you required to do as a kid? Feed the dog, make your bed, put your toys away? And what happened if you didn’t do said chore? Was there a penalty—maybe no TV or ice cream? That was Mom holding you accountable.

Did you learn any lessons from those experiences? I suspect you learned to do what Mom said or you wouldn’t get what you wanted.

Now that you’re a grownup, you are still being held accountable. The IRS will come after you if you don’t pay your taxes. The bank will come after you if you overdraw your account. Speeding? The cop will give you a ticket. Those are negative consequences.

Let’s change our perspective and look at the positive consequences of having an accountability partner.

Why have an accountability partner?

Having an accountability partner makes you hold yourself accountable—remember when mom told you to keep an eye on your younger sibling?

It makes you focus on what’s important. Your partner’s time is too valuable, as is yours, to waste on mediocre goals. See this post on SMART goals and why to set goals.

Having a partner helps you set priorities. “Do I want to do X or Y? I’d rather do Y, but I bet my accountability partner will challenge me to do X.” An accountability partner can give you a different perspective on whatever you’re dealing with. Your partner may even suggest that your real goal be Z, instead of X or Y.

It helps you grow by setting goals that are going to be a reach for you. You wouldn’t waste your partner’s time or yours on something that wasn’t a challenge.

What is an accountability partner

Great accountability partners

I’ve heard some folks say, “I want to be the next Steve Jobs” or “I want to be the next Bill Gates.” If that’s you, get an accountability partner. Each of those men had a partner that helped him develop great companies. Steve Jobs had Steve Wozniak; Bill Gates had Paul Allen.

“Being the sole decision maker has its benefits, but a partnership has its advantages too. They‘re a built-in accountability partner, a support system at every step, a good soundboard for ideas, and generally it’s nice to have someone in the trenches fighting alongside you.”

—The ONE Thing support team

Read about some of the great partnerships.

Take personable accountability—fess up

When I was in my mid 20s (before CNN and the Internet), I was in charge of a 20-person copy desk at The Atlanta Journal. Our job was to make sure that all the copy that went into the newspaper was accurate, well-written, spelled correctly, punctuated correctly, and, most of all, not libelous. We wrote the headlines and photo captions, and we did it all very quickly. We had multiple deadlines a day.

The managing editor at that time was feared by most people in the newsroom. He didn’t like mistakes in the newspaper. Actually, no one liked mistakes in the paper. He was just more bullish about it.

One afternoon we got a late update on a big local story about alleged mobster John Smith, who was on trial for numerous charges, including racketeering. The city editor got the update, did a quick edit and sent it to me for us to edit and put a headline on.

Another editor and I spent maybe two minutes on the story and sent it out to go in the paper. When the printed paper came up an hour later, this is what it looked like.

John Smith Linked to Crime Bosses

By John Smith
Atlanta Journal

In our haste to get the breaking news out on time, the city editor put John Smith, instead of the reporter’s name, in the byline. We had John Smith reporting on his own trial.

That, my friends, is a major screw up. One seen by newspaper readers around Georgia.

The next morning I waited for the much-feared managing editor to show up. I followed him to his office and told him what had happened. He stifled a laugh and asked who was responsible. I told him and he told me to get those folks in his office. We gathered, he chastised, and we all lived to see another day.

I share this story because it demonstrates what happens when you are proactive and fess up to your mistakes before your boss or someone else jumps on you. That’s a lot less painful that sitting around waiting to get fired.

It helps you grow by setting goals that are going to be a reach for you. You wouldn’t waste your partner’s time or yours on something that wasn’t a challenge.

what is an accountability partner

In late July, I wrote a $10,000 check to one of my mentors. I committed to producing a book manuscript in six weeks, or he would cash my check. If he had not pushed me to be accountable by urging me to write him that check in front of a mastermind group, I would not have published my book, “Professional Prosperity For Lawyers: Find The Perfect Job And Create Your Ideal Career” two months later. I may never have written it.

–Greg Yates

How about 15 accountability partners?

Another way to be held accountable is to get in a mastermind group. A mastermind group is a group of highly motivated individuals who want to help each member grow and reach goals.

For 15 years, I was in mastermind groups through Vistage. Most of my groups had 15 or so folks in them, with none of us in competing businesses.

At each meeting, members would commit to what they were going to achieve by the next monthly meeting. We recorded those promised actions in an accountability journal.

At the next meeting, we would review who committed to do what. We had to say what we’d done and the results achieved or explain why we didn’t get that task/mission accomplished. When you’re sitting in a room with 14 other people, it’s pretty embarrassing to repeatedly explain why you didn’t do what you committed to do.

Through my years in Vistage, I saw individuals chose to close their company or expand, offer new services or seek different clients, end partnerships and end marriages. For many of us, we would not have made the tough decisions we did without our accountability partners in the group.

Are you spinning your wheels or moving forward?

what is an accountability partner

That metaphor is the opening for this article on the ladder of accountability. Take time to read it. And see where you stand on the ladder of accountability.

Where do I find an accountability partner

This article from Entrepreneur provides great guidelines for how and where to find an accountability partner. I particularly like their second tip: find someone who will be brutally honest with you.

Business Insider advises that you don’t want to pick a friend as your accountability partner. See the tip about brutally honest above.

© Pamela A. Scott, MentorLoft.com, 2017

Related Post

Leave a Comment