This is the biggest issue holding people back from achievement

At NEP we deal with people who have all sorts of goals. Some examples include to achieve your KPIs, change careers, start your own business, get the promotion, lead your team to success, achieve more with less effort, be happier, and the list goes on…

Whatever your goals the biggest issue that we see that holds people back is a lack of accountability.

Everyone thinks they have it, very few actually have it, and I haven’t come across a leader yet who actually knows how to coach it (at least not before we start working with them) J I’m sure these rare beasts exist but just in alarmingly low numbers!

So what do we actually mean by being accountable?

Accountability is basically a “no-excuses” approach to achieving results. It’s about doing what you will say you will do by the time you said you would do it in. It is about being responsible for all of your responses to the events that happen in your life. Sure things don’t always go according to plan – but the onus is on you to work around them. No excuses – not one.

Let’s be equally as clear about what it isn’t. It’s certainly not about looking for excuses and external factors as to why you didn’t achieve your results. It’s not about blaming other people, or having a victim mentality about your circumstances in work and life.

And let’s also not confuse hard work with being accountable. There are plenty of people who are putting in lots of unnecessary hours working hard who still aren’t meeting deadlines or making the decisions, stepping up, and taking responsibility for what they should be. So just because someone is working hard doesn’t make them accountable – don’t ever fall for that old trick! There are plenty of “hard working victims” out there.

And interestingly enough when I ask most people if they think they are accountable the answer is always a resounding yes. About an hour into a workshop we can see that people really aren’t accountable at all. They may be hard working but that’s definitely not the same thing.

For the accountable people everything is a choice. They don’t have to do anything.

Here are some examples that people around you aren’t being accountable…

  • When you get an email from someone and your initial response is that you want to scream “Just do your F#%#ing job”.
  • When people are quick to blame others as to why they didn’t meet a deadline.
  • External factors which many would see as obstacles such as global market conditions, regulations, disruption are being used as reasons why people aren’t growing their business instead of working out ways to grow by thinking outside the square.

There is a great book called The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday Personally I think this should be mandatory reading for every human. Broadly speaking it explains that the difference between high performers and everyone else is the ability to see an opportunity out of what most people see as an obstacle.

There is always a way through or around the obstacle – it’s your responsibility to do what you need to do to work it out. No excuses!

And here’s the trick, accountability can certainly be learned. But since our brain is wired for defence, accountability doesn’t happen just randomly by osmosis. It generally needs to be coached.

So leaders, if you are unsure how to coach your team to understand that accountability is a no-excuses way of making sure that things get done, please do get in touch. 


If you’d like to find out more, join the conversation in our next open workshop.