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The Difficulty and Necessity of Accountability


I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with accountability. Similar to feedback, I know how important it is for us to hold ourselves and others accountable.


It’s so essential to effectively embrace accountability ourselves and within our teams. It benefits us, our teams, and everyone around us. And yet, it can be scary.


Why Accountability is so Important - and Stressful


Accountability often falls into the same category as conflict and feedback. Most of us don't like getting or giving it, but it’s necessary.


So, why is accountability so hard for a lot of us?


We put stress and pressure on ourselves when we make a commitment and say we’re going to do something. We don’t want to mess up, disappoint people, or break our word.


Accountability can be challenging because many of us have past trauma from it. It might be filled with shame or judgment - and that’s a big reason why many people shy away from it.


How do you hold someone accountable without shame, judgment, or-self righteousness? How do you hold yourself accountable without these things as well?

It can be difficult to create accountability for ourselves and to hold other people accountable in a healthy and productive way.


However, accountability is necessary for so many aspects of life—growth, relationships, success, and business. Without it, it’s difficult for us to get things done or push ourselves past our perceived limits.


Having Someone to Hold You Accountable


When we commit to things and have someone else outside of us hold us accountable, it motivates us.


Utilize the people around you - your team, family, and people you trust. Use them as a support mechanism. Make a commitment to them and hold yourself accountable. Knowing that someone else outside of you is holding you accountable will push you to accomplish whatever you set out to do.


Where can you use some accountability in your life? Where can you use support or guidance to hold you accountable and keep you focused on things you've been avoiding?


If we hold ourselves and others accountable without shame and judgment, we can make adjustments. We can better approach accountability by having some structure, tracking what we do, and having someone outside of us to whom we can talk or make commitments.


This is one way our team can be an incredibly valuable resource to us and everyone else on the team. It’s like playing on a sports team. There's built-in accountability on every sports team because you have to count on each other to win. Each team member is accountable for putting in the work, putting in the effort, showing up on time, etc.


Use the People Around You to Hold You Accountable in a Healthy Way


You have to have clear and healthy expectations when it comes to accountability.

Where can you use and seek out accountability? Where is accountability missing or lacking in your team, group, or family? Who can you talk to that will help you embrace those important but sometimes uncomfortable sweaty-palmed conversations?


We all have to grapple with the challenge of accountability. A lot of us have a love-hate relationship with it. We fear it, but we need it in life.


Look at your life. Who can you trust to lean on and to create more accountability? Learn how to build that muscle of holding each other accountable without shame, self-righteousness, or judgment. Build that muscle with truth, compassion, and clarity and see what happens.


Fee free to share your thoughts, ideas, or questions in the comments below.

Mike Robbins is the author of five books, including his latest, We’re All in This Together: Creating a Team Culture of High Performance, Trust, and Belonging. He’s a thought leader and sought-after speaker whose clients include Google, Wells Fargo, Microsoft, Schwab, eBay, Genentech, the Oakland A’s, and many others.


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