Have you ever struggled with staying committed to a goal? Have you ever been really motivated to accomplish more personally or professionally and then your drive dies after several days or weeks?
Holding ourselves accountable is no joke. It’s tough! I’m with you. I’ve fallen off the wagon many times when I haven’t stayed committed and consistent with enhancing my influence skills. What I was missing was the right accountability partner. Enhancing our communication is almost impossible to do alone. When you have the right accountability partner and a strategy in place, you are certain of what you want and what you need to do to get there.
Our research with the Social Research Lab at the University of Northern Colorado proves this. Individuals who held themselves accountable after attending our workshops continued to enhance their ability to communicate with influence even if they had attended three months or 12 months before.
In an interview, a client expressed one challenge: “How do I find an accountability partner, and then how do I partner with them?”
Here are three characteristics to look for when identifying the right accountability partner:
- Someone you can rely on who’s going to tell you the truth, commit to what you need and show up every time, ready to take you to the next level.
- How they show up is critical. They need to be prepared, and they need to get to the point without sugarcoating their feedback. They push you to become comfortable being uncomfortable.
- They hold you accountable for your development every time. They hold you to what you said you were going to do the last time you met, and they make sure you do it until you see results.
When you need to tell someone every time you meet what you’ve been practicing, this forces you to plan. Mastering the skill of influence without a plan is like shooting darts at a dartboard that doesn’t exist. Doing check-ins with your accountability partner allows you to measure what’s working for you, your areas of improvement and what you need to do to keep moving forward. When these three characteristics are in line every time you meet, you have a perfect fit. The true value of an accountability partner is knowing that they’re waiting for you to show up and they encourage you to be consistent by practicing and communicating with influence.
If you’ve ever worked with a personal trainer or had a workout buddy, you know that it’s hard to blow them off when they’re waiting for you at 5 a.m. It’s also more difficult to not hold yourself accountable when you have an accountability partner showing up once a week to work with you.
Once you’ve identified your accountability partner, you need to be clear on how to make this relationship work.
The second question our clients asked during our research was, “How do I work with my accountability partner to make sure we both benefit?” Here’s what works well:
- Decide how often you’re going to meet and where. The outcome you’re working toward will determine how often you want to meet. Once a week is not too often. We now have the advantage to meet virtually, thanks to Zoom, Microsoft Teams or another platform of your choice. Take advantage of being able to schedule these calls as often as needed.
- The first time you meet, be specific and clear in communicating what you want to accomplish with your accountability partner. What specifically do you want help with and how can they hold you accountable? How will you both know when you’ve reached your goals? You may need to revisit this conversation often as you begin to see enhancements or setbacks in your communication. The more clear and specific you are in the beginning, the more successful your relationship will be.
- When you meet, share your three wins and accomplishments since the last time you met.
- Share your communication struggles and challenges when you need direction or motivation.
- Whether you’re sharing your wins or challenges, always create an action plan—we refer to these as accountability challenges—you’re going to commit to until you meet again.
What can you do to take your wins from outstanding to excellent? What can you do to overcome your challenges to avoid stepping on the same landmines going forward?
This is the plan we use with our team and the leaders we mentor. You may have a better method that works for you. Do what works for you, but have certainty about your purpose of working with an accountability partner.
Your action steps this week:
- Identify an accountability partner whom you will reach out to before the end of the week.
- Be clear and specific about why you’re asking them to be your accountability partner and what you’re looking for.
- Commit to when you’re going to meet by confirming a date and time on your calendars. If you can, commit to the same time and day of the week and book at least 30 days out.
When you take on these action steps this week, you’re a BIG step closer to enhancing the most important skill: our ability to communicate with influence.
Download your complimentary chapter of my book, Influence Redefined … Be the Leader You Were Meant to Be, Monday to Monday® HERE!
Stacey Hanke is author of Influence Redefined…Be the Leader You Were Meant to Be, Monday to Monday®. She is founder of Stacey Hanke Inc. and has trained and presented to thousands of business leaders to rid them of bad body language habits. From the financial industry to the healthcare industry to government and everyone in between, Hanke teaches professionals how to choose words wisely. Her client list is vast: FedEx, Kraft Heinz, Nationwide, Boeing, AbbVie and Oracle. She is a Certified Speaking Professional—a valuable accreditation earned by less than 10% of speakers worldwide.