Success & Goal Achievement

Accountability vs. Responsibility

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How would you like to learn a success strategy that will double your chances of achieving your goals? 

I’m talking about the power of accountability, and today I’d like to give you some tips on how to put it to work in your life so that you do a better job of achieving the goals you’ve set for yourself this year. 

We’ll also talk about accountability vs. responsibility and the differences between the two so you can better understand how each strategy will empower you to accomplish more, faster, in the months ahead. 

Accountability vs. Responsibility: What’s the Difference?

Stephen R. Covey says that “accountability breeds response-ability.” 

He’s the author of the bestselling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, in case you don’t know him. 

I like this saying because it suggests that accountability and responsibility are different from each other — and it highlights the fact that being held accountable increases your ability to respond, which means taking action. 

When you are responsible for something, it is your duty to respond and take action. 

When you are accountable, you are responsible for reporting the actions you have taken and providing an account of the results. 

Responsibility is task-oriented. You are responsible for accomplishing the tasks required to achieve your goals. 

Accountability, on the other hand, is results-oriented. When you are being held accountable for something, it is your duty to take stock of what you’ve done and report on the outcomes of your actions. 

Both of these duties are key to your success. 

Accountability vs. Responsibility

Benefits of Having an Accountability Partner

Understanding the difference between accountability vs. responsibility is helpful when you have a partner.

I always encourage people to find an accountability partner who will hold them accountable for their goals and actions!

When you have an accountability partner, the two of you hold each other accountable for meeting deadlines, accomplishing goals, and making real progress toward the life you want to create. 

This is so powerful — because when you make your goals public by sharing them with another person, it makes them more real and impactful and greatly increases your motivation to achieve them.

In fact, the American Society of Training and Development did a study on accountability, which showed that if you make a commitment to another person and make a specific appointment to check in with the other person and report on your progress, you will increase your chance of success by 95%. 

It’s a simple thing to do, but the results are very powerful. 

This is especially true for solo entrepreneurs, who typically don’t have a team working with them, as well as people who don’t have any supportive friends or family in their lives.

Having an accountability partner who will stand in witness of your goals and commitments and require you to make regular reports on your progress goes a long way to giving you the support you need to get things done, even in the face of other people’s skepticism or negativity. 

How to Choose an Accountability Partner

So, how do you find an accountability partner and set up an effective accountability practice together? 

My first recommendation would be to choose someone who isn’t a close personal friend or family member, as it can be harder to remain neutral with someone like that, due to whatever emotional baggage you share together.

My next tip would be to choose someone who is highly motivated to achieve big goals in their life. 

You also want to find someone who is positive, enthusiastic and happy to encourage you as you work toward your goals. Avoid anyone who tends to be negative or pessimistic in general. Such a person is more likely to drag you down to his or her level and make it harder for you to stay motivated as you work to achieve your goals. 

Finally, be sure to choose someone who you know to be responsible and reliable. Your accountability practice won’t help much if the other person is always flaking out on you. 

Have Regular Accountability Partner Check-Ins

Once you have identified a suitable accountability partner, I encourage you to email them and ask if they would be interested in committing to an accountability practice with you. 

In my events and programs, I encourage my students to set up a time to check in with their accountability partner every day. Ideally, this should be at the same time every day. 

Early in the morning works best for most people, I find, as that’s usually when people are planning out their schedule for the day. But anytime will work if it fits in better with you and your accountability partner’s schedules.  For more on this, see my article on professional development planning.

I find that the best way to check in with your partner is over the phone or by using a video app like Skype or Zoom. There’s something to be said about having that personal connection with each other. 

But connecting via text or email works on the days when connecting over the phone or face-to-face isn’t possible.  

I encourage you to keep your accountability meetings short and to the point. This isn’t the time for chit-chat — it’s time for you to report on your progress and declare your intentions for the day ahead. Five minutes should be more than enough time for you and your partner to do that. 

So the best way to do this, I find, is to remind your partner of the actions you committed to taking the day before, and then state whether you completed those actions or not. Then they do the same — and that’s it! That’s all it takes. 

You recount yesterday’s commitments, update your partner on your progress and performance, and then commit to a new set of actions for the day ahead.

This is powerful because when you know that you’ll be reporting to someone, it provides the extra motivation you need to be productive and get the job done. It’s a lot harder to make excuses to someone else who is holding you accountable than it is to justify your lack of results to yourself.

During your accountability check-in, you can also ask your partner to share ideas, information, contacts and any resources you might need to achieve your stated goals. 

You can pitch your partner on your latest idea and ask for feedback: “What’s your opinion? How would you proceed?” 

Or you might ask your partner to make a call for you, give you the name of a contact who might help you, or email you some information he or she has already collected on that subject. 

Accountability vs. Responsibility

An accountability partner can also provide enthusiasm when yours is waning because of obstacles or distractions. I encourage you to choose a partner who is as excited about reaching his or her goal as you are about reaching yours — someone who is committed to your success and theirs. 

It’s important to remember, though, that an accountability call is not a coaching call or social call. Accountability partnerships work best and last longest when you keep the calls short and focused.

You might want to set a timer and give each other a minute or two each to ask for feedback, suggestions and encouragement. That will help make sure your accountability calls don’t take up too much time every day.

Your Turn: Choose Your Accountability Partner This Week

Bestselling author Catherine Pulsifer once said, “At the end of the day we are accountable to ourselves — our success is a result of what we do.”

This is true, of course. But an accountability partner can share the burden of accountability and make it so much easier for you to remain committed to your goals. 

So this week, if you don’t already have an accountability partner, I challenge you to find one. Don’t worry if the first person you ask says no. They might be too busy, or not interested in using accountability as a success strategy at this point in their life. Or they might already have an accountability partner. 

Just keep going until you find someone who is excited to embark on the accountability journey with you. It’ll be worth it, I promise you! 

And be sure to download my free 12 Month Success Planner with easy templates to help you plan out your daily strategies and achieve your goals. 
Understanding accountability vs. responsibility means you harness the power of both. Cultivating an accountability practice is a simple but extremely powerful way to stay focused and on track toward your dreams as you take responsibility for working to achieve your goals in the months ahead.   

Cultivating an accountability practice is a simple but extremely powerful way to stay focused and on track toward your dreams as you take responsibility for working to achieve your goals in the months ahead.   

Meet Jack Canfield

For over 40 years, he has been teaching entrepreneurs, educators, corporate leaders, and people from all walks of life how to create the life they desire.

As the beloved originator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul(r) series, he's taught millions of individuals his modernized formulas for success, and has trained and certified over 2,700 students to teach his content and methodology in 107 countries around the world.