Have you ever wandered off course when trying complete a project or reach your goals? If you are like most people, the answer is most likely a definite yes! In my Entrepreneurial Woman Magazine article 5 Secrets to Turning Good Intentions into Great Results, I mentioned how creating a board of directors can be valuable in keeping you on course. Staying on track can be a huge challenge. Each day we are pulled in different directions by clients, suppliers, employees, our own career or entrepreneurial tendencies for innovation and by life itself. Engaging with a Coach is one way to keep yourself on-track but this approach may not be for you. Another option is to find an accountability partner or group, also referred to as a mastermind or peer mentoring group. Groups can be facilitated by a Coach or self-directed.
I personally have used, and continue to use both approaches to keep my business growing and developing. Without the support of my coach and mastermind partners, I do not believe that I would have achieved the growth and fulfillment I have. I never stop learning from them. I also love to share in their successes too.
These 5 traits are necessary for an accountability partnership to be successful for everyone.
1. Create a strong Relationship
Each member of the accountability partnership should commit to participating in meetings on a regular basis for a specific period of time. Six months is a good time frame to see results and a reasonable commitment. Without this commitment, your ability to solidify relationships and keep each other focused and moving forward can be compromised. Whether you meet weekly, biweekly, or monthly, a solid schedule that is a dedicated commitment is critical..
2. Establish the Format
Meeting format can vary and they can be in-person or virtual (using skype, telephone or a conference line). There are benefits and drawbacks for each format so you must decide which will work best for you. Meetings can allow each person a set amount of time, or they can focus on a common business issue, or follow a question & answer format. I prefer a format that allows each person to update members on their progress and discuss an issue of value to them. I meet with one group virtually and another in person. Each formats offers its own benefits so its hard for me to decide which I prefer. Each group has established its own format which works for the group. Regularly revisit the format to ensure it is working for each member.
3. Set Boundaries
We have all attended meetings where one person dominates the discussions. This isn’t particularly beneficial when the focus should be on the collective success of each accountability partner. Establish boundaries such as time limits, attendance requirements, level of business experience, how new members are added, meeting scheduling etc. to ensure you can all catapult yourself forward successfully.
4. Create a Safe Environment
As a business professional, you are in a unique position. You may be a solo-preneur, a partner or have a team reporting to you. In each situation you are the leader of your business, your team or your career. As a good leader it is important for you to have support from others who are less invested in your day-to-day operations but vested in your overall success.
Your accountability partner(s) should honour the confidential nature of the information you share. Sessions together should be a safe place to share your ups and downs, successes and failures. Often personal matters are interrelated with business issues and those closest to us may not be as helpful as our accountability partner(s). What’s shared in the group, stays in the group!
5. Be Clear
Easier said than done, but, as recommended by Stephen Covey, “begin with the end in mind”. When entering into any accountability partnership, you should have a goal to achieve and a way to measure your progress. Remember, you remain in control of what you actually achieve, your accountability partner(s) will only help you stay on track. Your accountability partner(s) are like a board of directors who act a sounding board, offer insights and feedback which you can take or reject. Some also include sharing business referrals, others do not.
Accountability partners will collectively create a master mind to speed your progress and enhance your ability to grow and develop your business.