So here we are at the end of December, and you’re saying, “I can’t believe it’s the end of the year! How did this happen?” Well, it’s irrelevant. The bottom line is that 2014 IS here and now we need to be ready to jump in with both feet.
What can you do between now and January 1st to ensure your 2014 is your best year yet?
One of my most impactful success strategies is having accountability partners. I have two accountability partners. One keeps me on track with all aspects of my life… My entire to-do list for Information Experts, Successful Culture, my writing, my media strategy, my family, my friendships, and my health & wellness. My whole life is organized according to the spreadsheet I deliver to her in preparation for our weekly Thursday morning calls.
My second accountability partner keeps me on track with my Successful Culture growth strategy. We learn together, build our business plans together, share best practices, put deadlines in place for growth milestones; and we are even planning a series of co-branded live events in 2014. We have all-day monthly planning meetings, as well as twice-monthly phone check-ins.
Where can you find an accountability partner?
Accountability partners are everywhere once you set your mind to finding the right person. Here are some ways to find your perfect partner:
- Tap into your networks for like-minded people.
- Attend learning events. People that attend learning events have already adopted the mindset that they can learn a lot from others. In addition, if the learning event has a very specific focus, you will meet people who share the same interests.
- Ask for recommendations from people who know your situation and may know compatible partners.
What should you look for in an accountability partner?
Your accountability partnership is a business relationship based on trust and respect. Here are some tips to find the right person:
- Chemistry is really important. Look for someone that you can develop a trust-based relationship with.
- Your accountability partners must be someone that WILL hold you accountable for your goals. They won’t let you slide.
- Synergies in multiple aspects of your life are important. For example:
- People that are in similar industries, or similar stages of growth can help push each other to the next level.
- People who are balancing raising children can help each other with strategies for time management and keeping each other on track for both personal and professional obligations.
- People who are both working towards a health goal – either exercise or diet changes – can hold each other accountable. The accountability can spread across multiple areas of your life.
What can accountability partners do to set up a successful partnership?
Finding the right person is only half of the recipe for success. The second piece is execution. To ensure a successful partnership that will result in partners achieving their goals, follow these strategies:
- Set a permanent reporting process and time, and stick to it.
- Agree to send weekly goals to each other by a certain day. Breaking them up into the categories that you have agreed to.
- Make the appointment a recurring appointment (knowing that sometimes the exact date will have to change).
- In person or phone call is fine, as long as you set aside enough time for each person to review their list.
- Use a template that works for both partners when establishing the categories. Some accountability partners focus solely on business goals; others take a more holistic approach to include personal goals.
- Set the rules of engagement: are you asking for feedback/guidance, or just reporting in?
How can you set goals that are achievable?
How can a person set goals that they can actually achieve and that someone can hold them accountable for?
With my accountability partners, and with my coaching clients, I use the SMART Goals method: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Results-Driven, and with a Time Frame. You know when you have achieved it because you can check it off. This is one tool in my coaching toolbox that helps my clients move quickly and efficiently to their next level of growth.
Creating bite-sized goals that are connected to a larger goal leads to the achievement of the large goal. It’s not about focusing on the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It’s about focusing on the steps that get you to the pot of gold.
What’s the difference between a coach and an accountability partner?
There are several differences between a coach and an accountability partner.
- Ideally, an accountability partner should be someone who is at a similar place and phase in your business. Your coach should be someone who has already experienced what you are trying to achieve. Using a sports analogy, Tiger Woods has multiple coaches for specific golf techniques. He has selected coaches that are masters at the skills that he needs to be the very best, and that can help him overcome specific shortcomings because of their depth and breadth of experience. If he had an accountability partner, his accountability partner would ideally be another golfer at his level who would keep him on task to achieve his goals, making sure he was implementing the guidance that his coaches provided.
- Through their experience, the right coach brings new perspectives and solutions to your specific business experiences and challenges. My coaching clients share a wide variety of leadership and organizational challenges. I’m able to reach back to my 20 years of business-building experience to help them gain clarity, and navigate their problems with my own strategies and lessons learned across all business disciplines: moving from start-up to growth, building a leadership team, sales, marketing, networking, HR, legal, finance, etc.
- The right coach operates at the 50,000-foot, strategic level; an accountability partner is tactical. It’s difficult to be both tactical and strategic all the time. The combination of consistent task-driven accountability, combined with strategic coaching, is the optimal solution for achieving goals.
Accountability is the foundation for my coaching framework, so I play both roles for my clients. I’ve moved a company from a home-based solopreneurship entity to a multi-million dollar firm with locations around the country, have experienced company culture shifts, have survived both growth and retraction multiple times, and have moved through all phases of ownership. This enables me to personally relate to the struggles my clients face, and help them over the hurdles with prescriptive, measurable action.
Nothing is more important than accountability to move you towards your goals. It is the basis for all goal achievement. Goals written down are lists. Goals achieved are successes.
If you need some help shaping your wish list for an accountability partner, reach out to me. I will be happy to send you a worksheet that will help you build your perfect partner.
May 2014 deliver everything you want and need. May it be full of success, joy, love, and definitely lots of laughter!!