As if there weren’t enough people holding my feet to the fire, now my grade-school aged kids are doing it.
I asked them to.
The other day I was driving from the gym home and I started noticing how many people were texting while they were driving. I counted. In a seven mile drive I counted 15 people typing on their phones or reading while they were driving. There was a 16th woman who appeared to be watching a video her friend was holding for her as she drove. I didn’t count her.
I am not judging these people. I do it all the time..
My wife calls me out on it. She pointed out that the kids see me do it and soon they will be driving. They are learning by watching. I decided I wanted to change my behaviors.
So I made this deal with the kids, 10 and 12-years old. I asked them for accountability. I gave my kids permission to call me out if they see me looking at my phone while I am driving. I told them it is worth a dollar every time they catch me.
“You mean you want us to point out when you screw up?” my son asked.
“I do,” I smiled.
That is the thing about accountability. In business we have this idea that it is a top down thing. In many organizations, no one is willing to call out the boss when he is doing something in direct conflict with his stated goals.. The reality of it is that we all need someone to hold us to our commitments. It is difficult to change and we all need a nudge every once in a while. As leaders, others are often reluctant to hold us to things or call us out when we need it. By giving others permission to hold you accountable to something you really want to change, you are telling them you value their feedback and reinforcing how important the goal is to you.
Asking for accountability does four things:
1. It demonstrates that leaders are fallible, but through intentional practice, we can change. It is important for those we lead to see us work through things and recognize the need to improve.
2. It teaches them that they are a part of the team. My kids are empowered by the fact that dad asked them to make sure I was working toward a goal. So are your teams.
3. It reinforces the commitment to the goal, even when no one notices. I was driving by myself the other day and picked up the phone to send a message. I thought of the agreement and that I really wanted to stop. I put it back and when I got home told my daughter that I almost owed her a dollar — but not quite. She said she was glad I didn’t send a message, even if it cost her a buck.
4. It shows accountability not as a negative, but a way to progress toward a goal. Accountability doesn’t deserve the negative connotation is gets in most organizations. If it is a negative in your organization, you are doing it wrong.
Change is not easy. Improvement takes work. The good news is you don’t have to do it all by yourself. Your team, your family and your friends can help.
Ask them for accountability. It is good for all of you.