5 Steps For Picking An Accountability Partner

Picking A Partner“Partnering is a formalized friendship that you set up with one other person to keep you focused on the best, most important parts of your life.” – Carol Lloyd

Finding someone else who gets what you’re trying to do and who can support your efforts will help you stay focused and positive. And supporting someone else as they try to do the same will lift you up as well.  If this idea appeals to you, then follow the five steps below for picking an accountability partner.

Step 1: Write down what you ideally want to get out of the relationship.
What is your purpose, and what do you want to get out of the relationship? Naturally, the main reason you want to have an accountability partner is to help you stay accountable to achieving your goals. But try to be more specific than that because there are a variety of options, and not every one of them will suit you or your partner. Getting clear now about what you ideally want will help you later in the process of choosing and then communicating well with your accountability partner.

Some examples:

  • To get feedback and opinions about your ideas or plans.
  • To help with problem solving on items and issues when they arise.

  • To use as a “sounding board” so you can simply “talk out loud” about something. This is not the same as getting feedback but, rather, it’s when you talk about something and, just by talking about it, further ideas come to mind.

  • To brainstorm ideas and/or resources to create something or move something forward.

  • To report progress on goals. (Though there is usually a sprinkling of the others above in the meetings I have with my accountability partner, this is my main purpose. The meeting itself keeps me accountable to getting organized and tracking how I’m doing with the goals I’ve set earlier in the year or quarter.)

Step 2: Write down what you ideally want your partner to be like.
The main qualities for a successful accountability partnership include:

  • Respect for each other’s values
  • Open-minded, objective and non-judgemental of your goals

  • Confidential and discreet

  • Supportive and not competitive

  • Give and take equally of time and energy

  • Willing to communicate, especially with compassionate honesty

Is there anything else you prefer in particular? Be sure to write it down.

Step 3: Figure out ideal structure and logistics.
The main considerations:

  • How frequently would you like to meet? Once a month, once a week?
  • How long do you want your meetings to run? An hour, 90 minutes?
  • How will you meet? In person or virtually via phone or video conference?
  • What times of the day are best for you? Lunchtime, weekends, after work hours?
  • How and where could you meet? Public place, alternatively at each other’s homes or offices?
  • How would you like the meeting to flow? Each submit an agenda ahead of time; half an hour spent on one person and then switch to half an hour spent on the other; or maybe just see how subjects and time unfold naturally?

In other words, be prepared with what you think would ideally work best for you. That way when you are approaching potential partners, you’ll be ready to discuss and determine mutually-beneficial processes and logistics.

Step 4: Make a list of potential partners.
Now that you’ve developed the ideal scenario and partner in your mind, it’s time to look around you in your network to see who could partner with you. It might be someone you know fairly well, or it might be someone you hardly know.

As soon as I decided I wanted an accountability partner, I approached a good friend who fit all my desired qualities. We were already getting together for lunches about once a month to visit. But she politely declined saying that she didn’t feel the need for an accountability partner and would rather keep our friendship loose and fun rather than formalized. Then I met the woman who later became my partner at a conference. Of course, I didn’t know it at first. We hit it off at the conference, and since she was new to town, I invited her to meet for coffee. That’s when it hit me – at the end of that coffee date – she could be the person. So I pitched the idea to her, and she jumped on it.

Carol Lloyd gives great advice about who NOT to pick as an accountability partner in her book, Creating a Life Worth Living. She suggests that “If you are tempted to pick a spouse, a lover, or a new infatuation, please reconsider this urge. It may work for a while, but sooner or later the love relationship will be more important (or more horrific) than the partnering one.” She also wisely points out that your partner doesn’t need to be a close friend.

Step 5: Approach potential partners.
After you make your list of potential partners, narrow it down to your top few preferences. With your statement of purpose from Step 1 in mind, approach your first choice.

Again we turn to Lloyd for some excellent advice about how to phrase it when approaching the person you’ve chosen: “Explain to your potential partner that you will be starting a partnership of practical emotional support where both of you can use each other to achieve your goals, clarify your long-term vision, and develop and maintain a balanced creative process.”

Angela Loëb helps people rediscover and use their gifts so they bring who they really are to what they do in life. http://about.me/angelarloeb

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