Accountability, You Don’t Understand It
We long for accountability in our society. We call for it in regards to our politicians. And our criminals. It seems that we want to hold all kinds of people accountable. Maybe, we don’t really understand the nature of accountability. Merriam-Webster’s defines the word this way, “the quality or state of being accountable; especially: an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions.”
A friend of mine was hired for a job he knew he was unqualified to hold. But he felt it was an opportunity he couldn’t turn down and he knew he was pretty good at on the job learning. Yet, as several weeks went by on this new job he grew more and more frustrated. What had begun with a high level of excitement and pride over landing this great job that he never thought he’d get had turned into a frustrating and embarrassing situation. And, he could tell that his boss was equally or more frustrated.
Things were spiraling down on this great new opportunity. He decided he would take the ‘bull by the horns,’ swallow his pride, admit his deficiencies and ask his boss for some real help. He was nervous about this approach. And rightly so. He had been hired to do the job, provide the answers, work with a high level of excellence, and he would be admitting that he was unable to do any of that. He knew that in all likelihood he would be fired on the spot. But he went to his boss anyway. To this day he will tell you this was the best decision he ever made.
His boss saw in my friend a high level of integrity, a teachable attitude, and a desire for authentic accountability. And he decided to take a chance. Granted, not all bosses would have reacted that way, but this one did. Many other bosses will as well. My friend developed into one of the best hires this boss had ever made. My friend was eventually promoted and excelled at every level. All because he owned up to his deficiencies and asked for the help he needed, and more, he craved authentic accountability.
Imposed accountability is not the same as authentic accountability. Imposed accountability comes from outside of the individual. It’s the punishment that comes from the court when you break the law, or the repercussions at your company when you don’t do your job properly. Imposed accountability is dependent on a set of consequences that result from unwanted behaviors or actions.
Authentic accountability comes from within the individual. As the dictionary definition at the beginning of this article stated it this way, “willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions.” Those who are truly successful in life have learned to lean into authentic accountability while avoiding or minimizing the need for imposed accountability.
Society needs both imposed and authentic accountability, but as individuals and leaders in companies, businesses, and non-profits, we must cultivate within ourselves the practice of authentic accountability if we are going to be successful. Authentic accountability begins with you.
Here are three things to remember:
Authentic accountability requires your permission.
You invite the other person to hold you accountable to your goals, actions, and behaviors. You initiate this process.
You will not grow without authentic accountability.
Complacency defeats growth. Real growth occurs when you lean into authentic accountability and work the process in a relationship with others.
You need authentic accountability far more than you think you do.
We tend to avoid all forms of accountability. We prefer to project a false sense of competence and strength rather than the necessary vulnerability that comes with authentic accountability and we miss out on the growth, success, and development we desire.
My friend decided to invite authentic accountability, ask for the help he needed, and he became the person he wanted to be, he reached the success he desired. How will you proceed?
How have you experienced authentic accountability? How have you experienced imposed accountability? How were those experiences different?
Your friend and coach,
“Take Your Next Right Step!”
FYI, Coaching provides a powerful experience of authentic accountability! Try out a FREE ‘Discover Coaching’ session today! Sign up here http://www.rjonescoaching.com/coaching
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