The Accountability Partner

In my ongoing battle with procrastination,  I have learned how powerful accountability can be.  When you have someone else holding you to account for getting something done, the game changes. You may not necessarily be successful or get everything you want done but you certainly will behave differently. And the chances are that you will make more progress. For procrastinators, anything that helps you make progress is worth giving a shot.

My favourite application of this idea is as practiced by Marshall Goldsmith and he shares the concept of his ‘Nightly Follow-Up Routine’ in his outstanding book What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. He has a coach that calls him every night, no matter where he is in the world, and asks him the same thirteen questions; the questions themselves are diverse, covering exercise, diet, sleep, work habits and being nice to his family.

I spoke about this very idea last week during a coaching session and committed to giving it a shot for myself. For many months last year, I used an ‘end of working day’ review list where I recorded answers to questions on how productive my day was, how much progress I had made on key projects etc. But it had mixed success. Most days, my answers were pretty good but on the days that they were not, I didn’t really do much to ensure the following day would be significantly different. So, it’s here that the partner comes in. We do behave differently when we know we’re going to have a conversation with someone at a given point in time. I guess some elements of our egos are fired up and we work to make sure we feel good during those conversations.

Ivan Misner, the networking maven, blogged on this very topic today. He provides a very useful list of questions that helps identify who might be potential candidates for the role. He seems satisfied with a weekly check-in; presumably the questions will be very different from Marshall’s personal list.

I have my partner selected and confirmed (no Senate hearings required). Now, I’m working on my question list…

One thought on “The Accountability Partner

  1. Jay Parkhe

    Thank you for sharing this. I learnt this technique from Marshall and also shared in my peer mentor sessions.
    I have a junior who is helping me with getting rid of my habit of smoking and sends me a Text every morning ‘ How many yesterday’. Having been a chain smoker I have found it difficult to get rid of this habit and I find this technique very useful.
    My accountability partner has sent me just one text feedback in past 3 months and that is – ‘ be careful on weekends as you tend to smoke more then’. He shared with me once that he inputs the number every single day in an excel sheet and shall send me a graph when he notices a significant pattern.
    Wonderful idea this. A colleague of mine has already found a partner who agreed to ask her 5 questions. I think the ‘Baker’s dozen’ as described by Marshall takes time to discover and requires patience as it is not a one size fits all questionnaire and there is indeed accountability required mutually.

    Thanks again.


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