A simple definition of "personal accountability" is ...
Being willing to answer – to be accountable – for the outcomes resulting from your choices, behaviors, and actions.
That simple personal accountability definition focuses on the outcomes, which are at the END of process. In reality, "personal accountability" encompasses ALL phases of the process – the before, during, and after. Throughout the process, you must be WILLING (not forced) to PERSONALLY take ownership for ...
Accountability is related to the key notion behind accounting – to give an account of:
After having worked with a coach on self-leadership for a few years, I realized I needed to make wider changes – my firm's performance had plateaued, and I needed to better lead my people in achieving better results. Thus, in 2006, I formed what is called the Todd's Results team, consisting of two accountability partners (my coach and one other person), to help me plan and execute specific tasks I need to accomplish in each of three areas during a month.
Our first meeting was in January 2006, and it was to plan tasks for the upcoming month. At our second and all following meetings, the agenda has always been the same – evaluate whether or not I had met the agreed-upon goals set at the start of the month, discuss issues, anticipated in the upcoming month, and set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevent, and Time-Bound) goals for the following month.
To keep things interesting, I committed to give my accountability partners complete authority ...
Yikes – the possibility of having a "No-Not Met" publicly disclosed has ALWAYS kept Achiever AND Significance on "their" toes!
The purpose of taking complete responsibility for your actions and being accountable for small, intermediate goals? To apply the value of process to stretch you in achieving previously unimaginable goals. I would have never thought I could carry out all the goals listed every month ... until I learned to discipline myself to take consistent action on them each week. [Intentional Reality Part 3 – Reflections on a Year of Personal Accountability]
The benefits I have achieved include:
The downside of personal accountability is this – it's tough to do. Opening yourself to explain your actions to someone else is humbling. Being willing and able to take direction from someone else is difficult. Realizing that you are not always your own "best boss," "best organizer," or "best Business Development Manager" is hard to admit. [Intentional Reality Part 3]
Of course, there are downsides when personal accountability is lacking. Linda Galindo writes about these in her book, The 85% Solution:
You can keep doing what hasn't worked for you in the past if you want to, but it's not going to work for you in the future, either...
A lack of personal accountability is at the heart of chronic stress. It saps us of productivity. It wastes our time. It makes us less satisfied with our jobs, our relationships, and ourselves. (page 231) [June 2011 book reviews]
Higher productivity? Better time usage? More satisfying jobs and relationships? Feeling better about ourselves? These are wonderful benefits from a simple practice. Too bad few people attempt personal accountability, and fewer still live it fully. [June 2011 book reviews]
Read more on Todd's Accountability Experience: