Life with accountability

The theory of transactional analysis states that when two people speak to one another, there are actually six people involved in the conversation because each of us has three modes through which we converse, the Parent, the Child, and the Adult.

The Parent judges, nurtures, and tells others what to do; the Child either plays to the needs of others or is rebellious; the Adult comes through when we speak to one another as equals.

I bring transactional analysis up because it has a lot to do with accountability, particularly where compliance is concerned. Compliance is about doing exactly as you are told; many employees will comply with an instruction in an effort to avoid getting in trouble.

Note that this is different to accountability; where someone takes ownership of their work and engages with it for its own sake.

I have discussed accountability for months now, mostly from the perspective of a manager, or with reference to the benefits accountability has for a business or team – but what about the individual?

We, as individuals, should take ownership of our work and we should be accountable for our actions, decisions, and mistakes; but why? Compliance keeps us out of trouble, keeps our heads above water, but what are the benefits of accountability?

As a business coach, I’ve identified four broad benefits; these can be broken down further, but I’d like to avoid just listing things off.

The four benefits are as follows:

  • Better health
  • Control of your life
  • Control of your finances
  • Better time management

Arguably the first benefit is personal growth

Growing is difficult and uncomfortable. Difficult in that it requires us to confront the parts of ourselves (habits, skills, personality, etc) that don’t work to our benefit and find ways to overcome them. The uncomfortable part is to push ourselves beyond our comfort zones, picking up new skills and developing our strengths as we go.

Growth puts us in a position of improvement over ourselves – the more we learn, the more capable we are, tasks become bigger and more complicated, the rewards get larger, and this allows us to execute higher-level actions and get better results than before.

Confidence and resilience

The interesting thing about confidence is that if we never risk anything, we will never become confident. Confidence when we put it to the test. The greatest benefit to improved confidence and self-assurance is that others will develop confidence in you and your abilities.

Confidence in ourselves leads to increased resilience, which makes handling stress and difficult situations that much easier.

Healthy relationships

When we hold ourselves accountable, and when others see that we hold ourselves accountable, they will be more willing to be held accountable by us. When we are trustworthy, accountable and reliable, when others can see our integrity, it breeds respect.

Career growth

The more we grow and improve, the more accountable we are, and the more well-respected we are, the more in-demand we become, presenting more and more opportunities for career growth.

Those four benefits I brought up earlier (better health, improved time management, control of your life and finances) combine to form the holy grail that is ‘wellbeing and work/life balance’. When you are in demand for your skills and capabilities, when you are accountable, when you learn, grow and develop resilience it spills over into the rest of your life.

Accountability in one area means accountability in others; it means reduced stress, increased control over your life, time, and finances and the power to say ‘no’ to things that don’t fit within your skillset and interests.