Accountability. It sounds bad, doesn’t it? It reminds me of exams, report cards and getting called to the carpet. Terrible!
But getting an award, promotion or testimonial are also forms of accountability. Those aren’t bad!
Accountability is the measurement of your skills and outcomes against an objective standard with actionable next steps for improvement. The clients who provide me with regular and frank feedback (e.g. praise when things go well, and disappointment when they don’t) and who hold me accountable are gold to me. GOLD.
Without feedback, we don’t improve. It takes feedback to find out what we are good at, and what we aren’t good at. The famous study that shows that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert at any endeavor doesn’t specify just any practice. It requires deliberate practice; practice with feedback. You can stand on a tee box for 10,000 hours and whack at golf balls without getting any better if you don’t have coaching, teaching and measurement. Is your swing giving you the results you need? If not, you need to change some things.
That’s the gift accountability. If you have someone who tells you when you do rock the house, and when you are actually stinking up the place, that’s the first step. It’s too easy to drink our own Kool-Aid and think that everything we are delivering is top notch. But then we lose a client, or a prospect chooses to work with another firm. Do we write them off? Or do we seek out their feedback? What could I do better?
It’s painful to hear that we don’t measure up. But, without the pain of hearing about the gap between our performance and the client expectations (or competition’s performance), how else will we know that we need to improve?
Great leaders love feedback. They don’t hide from hearing where they have succeeded and where they have failed. They run toward it.
I’ve just passed my 10-year mark as a small business advisor, and I’m close to putting in my 10,000 hours. Have I gotten enough feedback? Have I learned from my mistakes and made my process and service better and better? I’ve put in the hours, but have I been deliberate enough?
Who is excited when you succeed and disappointed when you fail? Who is giving you that actionable feedback that will ensure that you are becoming an expert?
Photo credit: Hernan Piñera