Updated: Sep 7, 2019
Management, leadership, and sales literature all drive home the same point when it comes to accountability:
“Accountability is the glue that ties commitment to the result." - Bob Procter
If you can’t hold yourself accountable, you can’t be successful.
The problem is many tend to notice the lack of accountability in everyone else and not in ourselves, as mentioned by Amy Morin from Inc. This ultimately hinders our productivity, stunts our execution, and devastates results.
Years ago, as I struggled with this problem, I developed a creed to follow that helped me drive personal accountability. This creed changed the way I work professionally, enhanced the way I sold services and products, and even improved my marriage. My entire professional and sales life started to change, become more productive and successful, and I saw my quality of life improve.
The doctrine is simple: The Four Cs of Accountability
First, there are two ground rules:
Rule #1: Accountability always starts with me
Always start with the position “you are not a victim and are in control. It really is your fault.” Focusing on how you did cause your own fate, or how you could have prevented it, does really change your mindset from blame to accountability.
Rule #2: There are no Egos in Accountability
There is no room for egos or defensiveness with accountability. If a baseball player gets a strike, it doesn’t matter if it’s the umpire, coach, fellow teammate, opposing teammate, or even a fan who calls it a strike. The fact is still the same, you missed the ball! When you whine and say, “it’s not your job to tell me what I did wrong,” or defend why you swung the way you did, is wasting precious time and energy. Focus on accountability. Drop the ego. Drop the defensiveness.
Leadership guru Simon Sinek said “Accountability is hard. Blame is easy. One builds trust, the other destroys it.”
So much of that depends on your choice in how you look at it. Learn from feedback, even harsh, unfair, or hypocritical feedback. Who cares if it is mean-spirited, unfair, or hypocritical? Of course, it was! People aren’t perfect and remember: “Accountability starts with me.” Start with saying to yourself when someone gives you hypocritical feedback, “I’m not worried about their faults. I’m worried about mine.” Thank them for having the courage to help you and start to grow.
Now onto the Four Cs of Accountability:
C #1 - Critique Success
No matter how good you are, there is always a way to be improve. A person should never say “I’ve done everything I can do,” because there is always more. “Do it better every time” is a mantra that should be drilled by sales leaders daily. This “C” centers on you always pushing yourself when you succeed. Always go for more, never resting on your laurels, and never saying “I’ve reached the mountain top.” If you hit a 465-foot home run, dig in and analyze your swing to determine how you are going to hit a 466-foot home run next time. Critique the heck out of success every single time.
“You don’t win today’s games with yesterday’s home runs.” - Babe Ruth
C #2 - Correct Failure
Remember there is nothing wrong with taking risks or failure. Calculated risks are a good thing. Make more mistakes. Fail fast and learn quickly. If you’re not making enough mistakes, you’re not succeeding. I continue to see too many executives today fear failure and therefore not act. They spend too much time strategizing or planning and not enough time taking action. New York Times best-selling author, Grant Cardone, said, “Most opportunities are disguised as problems.” Think of that! Consider of the Wright Brothers Bishop Father who was frustrated at their obsession with aviation amidst failure after failure. Yet, they held themselves accountable to each mistake. They learned. They grew. They flew. Learn to fail. Embrace it.
C #3 - Celebrate Growth
Wins matter. Victory matters. Growth matters. You need momentum and that’s why this “C” is essential. Build on victories. Grow on the little wins. Encourage each other and yourself. You need to hold yourself accountable for the wins as well as the misses. Give yourself some credit once in a while! Wins beget wins. People often ask, why do we celebrate growth and not celebrate success? The answer is simple: success is expected. Every person on earth is expected to be successful in their own spheres. Why would you celebrate meeting expectations? Growth, on the other hands, is a choice. Growth is hard. Accountability is about celebrating the harder choice.
C #4 - Crush Mediocrity
This action verb couldn’t be more simply put. Mediocrity is the poison inside all of us that if we don’t stamp out at every opportunity, it will choke us. Mediocrity comes in many forms, like when we say “I’m working on this…” rather than giving ourselves a hard deadline, or “I’m waiting on an email response back” rather than picking up the phone or tracking the person down to get the answer we need. We give ourselves passes all the time and disguise it as being fair, diplomatic, strategic, or delicate when it is just us being mediocre. We allow ourselves to not get things done because we are afraid of putting our neck on the line and of failing. Mediocrity pollutes our integrity and contaminates our work ethic. It must be crushed at all costs.
The Four Cs changed my life. As I implemented them, I saw my personal productivity 2X across the board--everything from my sales, prospecting, appointments, to my ability to work with others and even my family and marriage.
Now, I’m clearly still a work in progress and make gobs of mistakes (C #2 is my favorite). I constantly remind myself of the 4 Cs and reteach them in my head over and over. But that’s what this creed is all about: it’s a doctrine to live by.
We can’t just hope for more accountability with ourselves or for our teams. Accountability is a way of life and the time to be more accountable is now.
Another version of this article has appeared on Noomii.com