Could You Use an Accountability Coach?

Accountability

Are you struggling to implement your Performance Excellence system and see improved results? Often the root cause is a lack of accountability.

The word accountability shows up several places in the Baldrige Excellence Framework. Not surprisingly, it appears multiple times in Category 1, Leadership, and the corresponding results item, 7.4. But it also appears in three core values: Visionary Leadership, Valuing People, and Ethics and Transparency. Why is the notion of accountability embedded in the Baldrige Criteria?

I was reminded of its importance recently listening to a keynote by Efrain Solis. He was an important part of Memorial Hermann Sugarland Hospital’s journey toward achieving the Baldrige Award. He talked about the need for senior leaders to be accountable for an organization’s persistence on a performance excellence journey. And he reminded me of a concept that I’d forgotten – an accountability coach. Much like having a running partner you know will be waiting for you in the dark when it’s drizzling outside, an accountability coach is someone you have to show up for. Someone you have to report back to. Someone who will monitor your progress and hold you to your word. Someone who won’t accept excuses.

I had a colleague a while back who had lost his job. He actually hired an accountability coach. When you’ve lost a job, it’s easy to get discouraged. It’s easy to find other things to do rather than polishing your resume, making calls, and trying to build your network. He already knew how to do those things, but he needed the “forcing function” of having an accountability coach. Knowing that he was paying her to hold him accountable was the incentive he needed to keep his job search moving.

If your performance excellence journey has slowed or even stalled, maybe it’s time to work with another senior leader to become mutual accountability coaches. As Will Craig, author of Living the Hero’s Journey, says, “Accountability is the glue that bonds commitment to results.”

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