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What does accountability really mean?

The million dollar question I’m often asked is ‘how can I be better at sales?’

There are many thoughts and opinions on this, but ultimately like being successful at anything it comes back to a combination of skills, a winning attitude, consistent good habits and desire. However we’re all human and life can get in the way, even for the most motivated individuals. Sometimes we all need someone to be accountable to, so we can stay on track, but what does accountability mean to you?

The definition of accountability is unhelpfully dry. “The obligation of an individual or organisation to account for its activities, accept responsibility for them and to disclose the results in a transparent manner.”

It doesn’t really explain how important accountability is, especially when you’re growing as a business or an individual. It goes without saying that the accountability that involves being professional and answerable to your clients is non-negotiable.

I want to focus on being accountable for those plans and goals for the exciting new projects or the work ‘on’ rather than ‘in’ your business, that often get pushed to the side, forgotten about, or thought of as just a pipe dream. Being more accountable to decisions you’ve made for yourself, and not for work delivered for clients.

Lets be honest, we’re in February now, those New Years resolutions are a distant memory, pancakes and easter eggs are invading where salads and herbal teas were a few short weeks ago, and the gym bag has been in the boot of the car for a while now, hasn’t it?

Much like having a PT at the gym, having an accountability buddy in business, which when used properly, is your ticket to more effective action, better results and far greater success. Without accountability, you are far less likely to succeed in your goals. There are a multitude of reasons why we might stop working towards a goal – we might be overcome with self-doubt or lose motivation, we might get distracted by new projects and ideas and start “chasing squirrels” or we might be masters at making excuses for not doing what we know we should be. These distractions and excuses can cost us dearly. The most successful people decide on a goal and then work for it, taking consistent action that moves them steadily towards that goal. They don’t get distracted, make excuses or give up. Want to be more like those incredibly successful people? Get accountable!

So deciding to be accountable is one thing, but who should you be accountable to?

A good accountability partner is fair, but not critical or judgemental. They are more than just a cheerleader – they will make it clear to you when you are telling yourself lies, self-sabotaging or failing to live up to your potential. They will hold you to the standards you set for yourself, but they won’t set goals for you, and they will have no agenda or stock in your decisions.

That’s why I wouldn’t recommend choosing a family member or close friend as an accountability partner, or anyone else you have more of an emotional connection to. They often won’t want to hurt your feelings and so won’t tell you what you need to hear, or if they do take a tough-love approach, it can create friction and upset between you, instead of positive action. Make sure you choose someone (or a group of people) who is professional and neutral. That could be someone you have met through networking either in person or online, members of a business mastermind you are part of, or a coach.

Accountability doesn’t just have to be about the “big picture” – you can choose be kept accountable for any goal or task. I work with several of my 1-to-1 clients specifically on their sales skills, and keep them accountable with weekly Skype calls. This regular schedule and accountability to me means that they have to take consistent actions, which coupled with the training and support I give them means that they start to see consistent results in the form of improved sales!

So all in all, accountability is quite simple. Tell someone you’re going to do something, and then regularly check in with them so they can keep you on track. With the help of your accountability partner, you will take consistent action until you reach your goal – which is a trait of life’s real winners.

So what big goal do you have in mind that you might now realise you need more accountability for?