Accountability falls under two categories: the things we do and the things we do not do. We often discuss accountability related to what’s accomplished, but do you truly take the time to hold yourself accountable for what doesn’t get done?
As a leader, accountability begins with you. You set the example. So, do you hold yourself accountable as often as you hold your team accountable?
Here are three quick tips to “up” your internal accountability game.
1. Don’t break the appointments you’ve set with yourself.
We rarely set appointments on our calendar with others and overlook, or even cancel, the appointments. Why is it that it seems so easy to break appointments with ourselves? It’s simple to make excuses when the only person you’re answering to is yourself.
Use your calendar to set aside time for specific actions you’ve committed to taking and make sure you’re aware of the benefits the action will provide. For example, we recommend setting time aside weekly for recruitment. You expect your sellers to set aside time weekly, if not daily, for prospecting and new business development. Recruitment is a manager’s equivalent of prospecting.
Set appointments with yourself to look for talent so you’re making consistent deposits in your talent bank. Use LinkedIn, network with local colleges, and connect with referrals. What’s the benefit to you? When a change occurs on your team, instead of scrambling to find a warm body, you have someone talented to pull off of the bench.
2. Quit the blame game.
Accountability is ownership of a result, but responsibility involves rolling up your sleeves and getting the job done. We get frustrated when others aren’t held accountable for their responsibilities, but we’re usually quick to play the blame game when we fall short on something we were supposed to do. Outside circumstances, lack of follow-up from others, not enough resources, blah, blah, blah.
Sure, maybe the reasoning is rational. It’s inevitable that things will get in the way and slow down the process. Even so, we must maintain accountability for the outcome, regardless of the circumstances. Stop pointing your finger and saying, “you should have,” and instead, ask yourself what you should have done. Avoid using the word “but…” at all costs.
You’re not doing yourself any favors by sugar-coating and making excuses as to why something didn’t happen. Take advantage of the situation by learning from it.
3. Define your procrastination.
We all have unique procrastination habits. When I’m procrastinating, I lower my level of focus and purposefully allow distractions. What was that notification? Who just emailed me? What does my schedule look like for tomorrow? Did my stomach just growl? Wow, it seems like I may have run out of time right now to complete this project…
Define your procrastination habits, whatever they may be, and brainstorm ways to prevent them from happening. Close out of email and turn off your notifications. Identify when you truly get your best work done and reserve that time of day on your calendar.
Set a goal for yourself – it’s only okay to walk away once you’ve completed A, B, and C. And if you’re still struggling, ask someone else to help hold you accountable. Commit to sending them what you’ve accomplished by a certain time of the day.
George Washington Carver said, “Ninety-nine percent of all failures come from people who have a habit of making excuses.” Hold yourself accountable for your actions and commitments. You, and your team, will be set up for success.
*Editor's Note: This blog was originally written in 2016 and has since been updated.