A Leadership Secret Ingredient to Get Things Done

...is available to everyone! Wouldn't you like to improve the probability of getting more things done, enhance your personal growth and advance your career? YES - OF COURSE! AND, what if didn't require any more self-discipline than you currently have - sound too good to be true? (Cue the infomercial!)

Well, the secret ingredient is real and has some quality research behind it, done by the American Society for Training and Development (now the Association for Talent Development). 

Below is a summary of what they found.

So, the SECRET INGREDIENT is getting an ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER!

Guidelines for An Accountability Partner

If you want to make the Accountability Partner (AP) "secret ingredient" work for you, pass these guidelines along to the person you want to hold you accountable and use them when you are helping someone. These guidelines help describe the AP's role in the process, so that both of you get the maximum benefit. Review these guidelines before you start recruiting your AP.

Be committed to your Partner and their desire to improve

  • The things they have chosen to work on are important, they want, even need, your help
  • Research shows high performers want to improve, so your objective input is valuable to them

Provide accurate, objective feedback

  • Don’t let your feelings dictate what you share (or avoid sharing)
  • Look for facts, not opinions on how you or others feel and see them as a person
  • Find opportunities to observe them in action
  • You might ask them to give you a letter of permission to interview others who have observed them. Example: “I am _____’s AP. They want to improve ____. Here's their OK to come talk to you to see if you had any suggestions on how they could improve. What two suggestions would you give?” What about them would you like to see more of or less of?

Make it reciprocal

  • Think of items that you want improve
  • Give those items to them and ask them to hold you accountable
  • This helps create an environment of improvement rather than judgment

Keep it simple and short

  • The process does not need to take much time
  • Shorter time frames tend to be easier to accomplish

Be enthusiastic and supportive

  • Don‘t judge. You are not the “law” to make them do anything, you are a resource to help them
  • Value their freedom to NOT change – change is SOLELY their choice
  • Seek permission before you give advice
  • Find ways to make it fun

A Simple Process to Use

After you have chosen your AP and provided them the above information, use the following information to get started. Add anything that will be helpful, but keep the administrative items to minimum. You want to spend your time on getting things done.

  1. Determine the items you will work on. Keep the list small, 3 to 5 items is the maximum. If you get more than 5, you will have a more difficult time staying focused. If you have had a 360 survey done for you recently, use 2 items from that survey.
  2. Develop a metric for each item. Without metrics you will have little objective evidence of whether you are progressing. Creating a good measurement is often difficult, but will make a huge difference in the energy you spend. Clear metrics provide a clear focus on what is needed. Example: Suppose you want to work on praise and recognition of others. A metric might be the number of people you praise or recognize each day. Further details can be if you do it publicly or privately.
  3. Create a question about the metric. After you create the metric, then just create a question that you want your AP to ask you regularly. For example: “Did you praise and encourage at least one direct report publicly today?”
  4. Schedule a standard time to talk with each other. Preferably, 1 time per week or no less than 1 time every two weeks for 3 to 5 minutes. The object of the meetings is not to create solutions for lack of progress, it is knowing that someone will be asking you whether you have made progress. Your AP only needs to ask the questions you provided them and if they have some things they are working on, get them to create a question for their metric. Respect your meeting time limit to reduce the chance of it becoming a burden on both of you. A phone call can work great, but face to face is better, even though it can take longer. Finally, setup other meetings for discussion when it is obvious progress is not being made.

Enjoy the process of getting more done. Try it and let me know how it worked for you.

Help Your Friends Too!