Accountability partners – an essential ingredient in leadership development

 In the past 10 years, millions of dollars has been invested in leadership development programmes. What results might we expect to see in our leaders and in our organisations? I have learned there is at  one essential ingredient to ensure learning is implemented having accountability partners.
Many of us set leadership learning goals in isolation. We may be responding 360-degree feedback, or from encouragement from our managers. Our learning goals might be shared with our coach, or the provider of a leadership programme. On the programme, we might have profound insights, keep a learning journal, and share our learning with workshop coaches and programme peers. Returning to work, the immediate and urgent takes precedence over what’s important. The pressure is on: there are stakeholders to respond to, tasks to complete, and results to produce. Our learning commitments fall into the background.  
Hats off to the Center for Creative Leadership in identifying learning accountability as an essential tool for implementing leadership learning. In the late 1980’s I participated in CCL’s Workshop in Organisation Action (and then brought the programme to the NZ College of Management in 1989). Six months after the programme I received a letter! How was I doing in implementing my learning goals? I realised my CCL trainers had me in their thoughts, and really wanted to know how I was going. They wanted me to be successful. This process changed my life.  
A core success ingredient of the Executive Presence programme, and my team and individual coaching practice, is inviting leaders to establish accountability partners.
Here’s an example: One of the innovative teams I’m working  is producing inspiring results. Liz and Oliver reported, ‘Manoj called us in around the table as his accountabilibuddies* (credit:Southpark) and said tell me know what you have noticed. He demanded we let him know how he was going on the goals he had set.’Liz…. ‘ this was an exciting conversation to be part of.Oliver, ‘we could see he really wanted to know. His commitment to develop motivated me too.  We’re proud to hold each other to account like this – being a sounding board and helping out. It’s a great process – and it strengthens us individually and as a team.’
Leaders change their behaviours with accountability partners alongside. By choosing people you know who want to see you succeed and who are willing to hold you to account, produces results. Letting your accountability partners know what you want to achieve, then inviting them to give you feedback several months down the track on the impact they have noticed with your new behaviours, changes lives.
A core ingredient in ensuring value for money with leadership development is having accountability partners. For you personally, inviting 2 -3 others in this role with you each time you set goals and decide actions is core to your success. Don’t go it alone. You may be independent and resourceful, no question. Inviting others to companion you, noticing how you apply what you learn, and have fresh eyes looking out for  results, creates partnerships and inspiration. Who might you choose to hold yourself accountable for implementing your new leadership learning? 
© Diana Jones