Ask any coach of coaches, one of the first things they’ll teach you is accountability is the third rail of coaching. Touch it and your career will be short and painful.
Your clients will say they desperately want accountability but the moment you start holding them to account they slip straight into “I forgot my homework mode” and it’s easier to sack the coach than face their own shortcomings.
Can’t blame them – it’s very human to blame yourself only if every other possible excuse has been used.
So no accountability in coaching.
The latest research insists accountability is a crucial aspect of any successful endeavour. This got me thinking and this thinking made me perplexed.
I’m really lucky to have gotten to know many of my students really well. They are great people (I mean they chose me to coach them so of course they have exceptional taste!).
In every other area of their life they are the most reliable and accountable people you would ever meet. Amazing Parents, goto coworkers and significant contributors to family and community. In other words…
They are incredibly accountable!
The only place where they become shaky, unreliable and anxiety ridden is when they are working on their dream business. The thing which will allow them to level up their level of contribution in all areas of their life.
If they treated their children like they treat their new business building they would have a visit from the appropriate local authorities!
“Hey I collected the kids two out of five times this week” that’s cool right…
Why does this happen – I have some theories.
First, as much as they want their business to work , when some out of the blue event comes and disrupts life (and it always will) the new business is the first project overboard.
You can see why this makes sense, neglect your day job, you don’t get paid, neglect your family and kids and it has life long negative consequences. It makes sense to drop the new business, no one is affected.
Trouble is life happens and you never get the business to the point where you have others relying on you to make their pay check and feed their families. This is when accountability kicks in for your venture!
But between business idea and first employees you are very happy to put baby (your business) in the corner.
Most of the accountability practises and negative associations were burned into your pchyche in your many years of schooling. School was designed to get you ready for life as a subservient being on a factory line at the beginning of the Industrial Age.
When coaches try “School” style accountability, it’s not a surprise it backfires. Accountability practices when at their best lift everyone up and set up a cycle of constant and never ending improvement – not the shame and embarrassment of being singled out and disciplined for not doing your homework.
Trouble is these modern accountability practises really needs a team to be most helpful.
There’s the rub when we start out we are soloprenures.
This is the third issue – to practice effective feedback and modern accountability you can’t do it by yourself. If that voice in your head is anything like mine it’s a pretty harsh critic. The resistance as Steven Pressfield so brilliant identifies in The War Of Art. Will do anything to keep you from you’re calling.
One of my favourite things when I do Recipe Live events is when I get students to give each other modern feedback. So often, an Idea the inner critic has written of as rubbish is loved by your table mates. The smiles are infectious.
It’s insidious, the very thing we love about being our own boss, is the very thing which is agitating every effort for you to succeed with negative self talk and distorted, emotional analysis.
I’m running an experiment right now to see if we can bring accountability to entrepreneurs in a way that is uplifting and not draconian.
I’m acting as a Scrumaster to these entrepreneurs it’s early days but I like how things have started out. I’ll be sure to keep you updated.