The Coach’s Alphabet:A_Accountability
by theCoach4you (aka: Stacey Zackin, Coach/Speaker/Educator)

In my 15 years as a certified Life and Career Coach I have observed that dissatisfaction is usually due to a neglected value. Regardless of the quantity of “stuff” we acquire, the level of success we achieve, or the number of resolutions we keep, if our core values are ignored we will feel lacking and lackluster. That is why so much of my work with individuals and organizations centers on values and why I created The Coach’s Alphabet – A Playbook for the Game of Life! Designed to prompt reflection and stimulate action around the values that are most important, the playbook guides you from Accountability to Zeal.

Based on your personal beliefs about what is important, values dictate your decisions and impact how you think about yourself and others. Values are the building blocks for sustainable change—identify and live your values, and you strengthen the foundation from which everything else is built.

Each column I write will present a different value with five reflective questions. You can respond on your own, discuss with friends or family, share your thoughts with the NEAG community, or directly to me at Stacey@theCoach4you.com. Then, have fun observing how these values show up in your life AND how you show up in the world.

Today we start with “A” for “Accountability,” which is defined as: being responsible (or called to account) for one’s actions. This implies both an obligation and a structure of enforcement to report, justify, or achieve something.

While working as an outplacement consultant for people who had been laid-off, a common trait my clients sought in a new job was feedback. They not only desired acknowledgment for what they did well, they desired direction regarding where they were failing to meet expectations. Knowing that others recognize our potential and are invested in our growth feeds our values and makes us feel valued.

The issue remains that many of us do not know how to effectively give nor graciously receive constructive feedback – either in a professional setting or in our personal lives.

In the Jane Austen novel Emma, Mr. Knightly confronts the title character after she has teased another woman in public. He takes her aside and declares,

It was badly done, indeed! You…in thoughtless spirits, and the pride of the moment, laugh at her, humble her…and before others. [Telling you] this is not pleasant to you, Emma—and it is very far from pleasant to me; but I must…I will tell you truths while I can.

By accosting Emma in this manner and holding her accountable for the impact of her behavior, Mr. Knightley is defending what he believes to be her true character and inherent nature. We are all capable of being selfish, mean-spirited, insensitive, and unmotivated at times. What a gift it is to have someone who can see beyond the particular moment and serve as guardian of our better Self—friends, partners, and colleagues who challenge us to act with integrity and allow us the opportunity to make amends when we fail others or ourselves.

Do you have some personal and professional goals that are not coming to fruition as quickly as you want or need? They might be well served by setting up a structure of accountability. Ask a friend to accompany you on morning walks, participate a writing group that tracks how many pages you complete of that novel you want to write, join a job search team, enroll your boss in creating a strategic plan to put you on track for advancement, or hire a coach, personal trainer, or matchmaker to challenge and champion you to create the life you want. The key to accountability is:

• Clearly stated goals (with deadlines)
• Consistent support
• Giving someone permission to say “badly done” when necessary, and most importantly,
• Being willing to acknowledge and celebrate all the things you are doing well.

Below are questions to help you explore the value of accountability. Stay tuned for my next column where we discuss how to balance all of the people and projects to which you are accountable. Enjoy the process!

1. To whom or what are you accountable?
2. In what areas of your life does accountability show up the most and the least?
3. What is your relationship with accountability? Is it stimulating or smothering?
4. How has accountability served you? How can it serve you more?
5. Select a value to embrace this month? What accountability will you put in place to live that value?

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Stacey Zackin
Founder, President at The Coach 4 You
Stacey Zackin (PhD, MSW, PCC) is Founder and President of theCoach4you, a Personal Coaching and Executive Training practice. She merges her background in psychology, organizational behavior, and the entertainment industry to creatively drive positive change. Partnering with individuals and organizations, Stacey creates a structure for success that shifts perspectives, increases productivity, expands possibilities, and maximizes potential. Stacey also serves as adjunct faculty at UConn and host of The Work & Playlist on WESU 88.1fm Middletown, CT. Stacey@theCoach4you.com
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