Be accountable to someone. Being accountable can improve personal performance. That is the very reason why successful people work with a professional coach.

Use the 80-20 Rule

Set the parameters of your relationship. Ask that person to question you about how you manage your time, what you are working on and what you are getting done.

The very fact of you knowing you have to give an account to them shifts your thinking to a different level. You will begin to look for more effective ways to think and act. You will spend more focused time on critical projects and accomplish more real work. And you will have increasingly better reports to give to your accountability partner.

“In fact, the real expert is not really an expert at all, but a support system. What we all need is the kind of support that functions like a personal coach who helps us work through certain problems, has suggestions for appropriate fixes, but never tries to limit anyone. “

John Eliot, Overachievement

Five Days of Action

Think about having an accountability partner to whom you report. The purpose of this relationship is to be accountable for intentional growth and action toward greater effectiveness and contribution. This may be your mentor, a professional coach, a trusted advisor or someone pursuing the same path you are. Choose carefully. This person should be a broad thinker and able to ask penetrating questions that spur you on to improvement. Make a list of the people you would feel comfortable with in this role.

Write down the mandate of your accountability partner. Give them the latitude to question you about your actions, your motives, how you think, how you handle stress, relationships, work habits and anything else you can think of. Be as broad or tight in your instructions as you feel will benefit you.

Approach someone on your list. Engage them as a partner as you embark on consciously improving your effectiveness.

Be honest. Talk about your perceived gaps in personal, work and leadership knowledge, skill or attitude. This person may need time to get to know you. Give them the fullest picture you can every time you meet.

Determine to be a leader who is consciously working on improvement. Have a personal plan of development and communicate it to your accountability partner. It doesn’t need to be onerous, but it does need to answer the question, “What am I working on at the moment?”