Why Accountability is so Hard

When I began reflecting on my 22 years as a college president, I took time to think about what I could have done better. The list was long.  As I reviewed the list over and over, I began to realize the word accountability appeared several times.

  • I didn’t hold staff as accountable as I should have …
  • My trustees could have done more for the college, if I had held them more accountable …
  • I could have been more accountable to my senior team …

Now five years in with BrightDot as a consulting/coaching firm, I see a lack of accountability over and over again on so many levels within organizations.

The Link Between Strength and Clarity

In a recent post on LinkedIn, there was an interesting list of 18 Things Mentally Strong People Do.  Here are a few of them according to the article:

  • They reflect on their progress.
  • They tolerate discomfort.
  • They evaluate their core beliefs.
  • They have staying power.
  • They keep control.
  • They embrace change.
  • They accept full responsibility for their past behavior.

As I read the whole list, I concluded that a strong person expects to be held accountable.

We believe nonprofits are often made up of individuals who see accountability as a bad thing and not as something that drives growth, courage and results.

Pearson’s Law states, “When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported back, the rate of improvement accelerates.”

It has become evident to me that clarity, measurement and reporting back are the keys to higher performance for individuals and organizations. That means doing the hard work to make sure you or your organization has:

  • Clear goals
  • Tools for measurement
  • Accountability partners

Keys to Success

As the CEO of BrightDot, I have clear goals—impacting lives and making a profit.

I have tools I use to measure our processes. And I have three masterminds who hold me accountable.

It is not always easy. In fact, it’s downright hard. But here is what it does:

  • It creates focus and priorities.
  • It drives decisions and planning.
  • It forces pivoting.
  • It generates results …
  • Which causes celebrations …
  • Which results in JOY.

It’s Worth the Hard Work

In the world today, nonprofits are more crucial than ever in meeting human needs. And that’s hard work. But if being successful was easy, almost everyone would be! 

Learning to be held accountable and to hold others accountable is hard, but it’s a skill that will drive results and lead to more fulfilling work.s

Bill Crouch is Managing Partner and CEO of BrightDot.

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