How to Modify Your Approach to Accountability

Have you had a conversation with someone to hold them accountable in the last six months? Multiple conversations?

Were those conversations easy? Did they go perfectly according to plan?

If you’re like most people, then probably not.  


Here’s the thing, it’s not just what we say in those conversations, but how we say it that matters. The problem is, we often say things in the wrong way.

When we think about accountability, we imagine what our message would be without refinement, that is if we used full candour and full force. Usually, the unrefined message we imagine ourselves delivering to someone else is pretty harsh.

We do this type of assessment all of the time. We find ourselves faced with a tough message – something we wouldn’t even want said to us – and we ask ourselves, “How will this go over?”. We believe that it won’t be received well by the other person, so we tend to shy away from it. We talk around the issue and sometimes don’t address it at all.

What if we could share those messages? What if we could be effective and efficient in solving these problems of accountability sooner rather than later.

The good news is that we can get better. One of the first steps we can take to improving these conversations is to modify our approach. Instead of focusing on intimidation and power to start a moment of crucial accountability, we need to focus on having a balance of confidence and humility.

First and foremost, you need to have the confidence to speak up. Just because you’re seeing something, it doesn’t mean the other person is. Just because you see that someone is failing to meet expectations, it doesn’t mean they realise it themselves. They might not have a clue that there’s an issue that needs to be addressed.

If you don’t bring it to the table, they may not have a chance to fix it, regardless of if they want to or not. You need to have confidence in your message by realising that what you say holds value.

The second part of our approach is humility. Understand that before you enter a moment of accountability, you don’t always have all of the information. It’s okay not to know everything. Sometimes, the other person does!

Humility is about looking for the materially relevant information that the other person can bring to the table. It’s the idea that before you start solving the problem, you need to know what the right problem is. To do that, you need all of the information.

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