Personal Accountability?

Leading, by default, creates accountability. Deadlines, projects, problems, meetings, and deliverables naturally create leadership accountability.

What about personal accountability?

I’ve never been held accountable for personal habits. Sure, I’ve been corrected many times, but I’ve never been in a proactive relationship where someone checked up on me. Have you?

An Illustration

Marshall Goldsmith has a personal coach and friend that holds him accountable. Every night Marshall’s personal coach calls him to ask a list of predetermined questions, things like; how many sit ups did you do, how much time did you spend watching TV, how much time did you spend on the Internet, and more.

Marshall designed his own questions. The coach’s job is to call and asked the questions, nothing more. There’s no advice or correction, just questions. The process is complete when Marshall turns around and asks his coach a series of predetermined questions. They do this every night. (From, “What Got you here, won’t get you there”)

Something in me says this is a very good thing.

On the other hand, something in me thinks this becomes boring and ineffective. Suppose one of your goals is 100 sit-ups a day and you never make it. What then? Why not just fudge it or forget it?

I’ve been thinking about personal accountability. The ideas below do not come from personal experience. I’m just thinking out loud.

Personal Accountability works when…

#1. You set your own goals and craft your own questions

#2. Your goals are achievable

#3. You respect the person asking your accountability questions

#4. The relationship is two-way. In other words you ask questions in return

#5. Personal goals and questions are modified with time

Personal Accountability doesn’t work when…

#1. Your goals are unrealistic

#2. Your goals aren’t measurable

I’m interested in developing personal accountability. I believe leaders reach higher with both professional and personal accountability.


Are you personally, accountable to someone? How is accountability expressed?

What suggestions do you have for someone exploring this topic?