Setting goals is the easy part; taking the necessary action to achieve them, is a story for another day. A lot people are not ready to do the work. Accountability is the antidote for this. Accountability is a very vital part of a coach-client relationship. It is what makes clients take action to achieve their goals.

Most people are not naturally inclined to do the work that gets them result. There has to be a propellant or an external force that makes them do the work. The result is a plethora of unachieved goals. According to a research by University of Scranton, USA, 92% of people that set goals are likely not going to achieve them. Whether it is life, business, fitness, or health goals, people find it very difficult to achieve set goals. Therefore, it will be a disservice to your clients if you don’t make them accountable to achieving their goals.

Holding clients accountable ensures they get their desired results. This is what led you into the coaching business in the first place. World-class coaches are excited about helping and motivating their clients to get better – both in the quality of life they live and in the things they do.

This piece is aimed at showing you the levels of accountability and how you can make your clients accountable to taking action.

Levels of Accountability 

There are two levels of accountability; personal accountability and partnership accountability. For the records, they are both essential for your clients to attain. The two levels complement one another. So they are both needed if your client desires to get results and achieve set goals.

  • Level 1: Personal Accountability 

Coach-Client Relationship

This is the point where a client understands that they owe it to themselves to take action to achieve set goals. They have to decide within themselves to take responsibility for their actions and the results. It does not only set the path for a successful coaching program, it gives the client a sense of fulfillment when their goals are achieved.

The amount of personal accountability exhibited differs from one client to another. Some have built up themselves over time, while some are still trying. Whatever, be the case, it is a virtue that can be learned.

For clients who haven’t built up enough personal accountability attribute, you can encourage them to do the following.

  • Intentionally commit to do what it takes to get results, regardless of the challenges they face. It might get them off their comfort zone, but the determination to achieve results should give them the drive to do what they need to do.
  • Develop resilience. They shouldn’t throw pity parties anytime things go wrong. The feeling to quit at the sign of trouble is normal. However, encourage them to build inner tenacity that can help them get through setbacks.
  • Taking ownership of their actions. They should understand that they are responsible for their outcomes. If something goes wrong, they take note of their mistakes, dust themselves up, and continue on a better path. Every mistake should be an opportunity to learn and get better. This mindset will help them become personally accountable.
  • Level 2: Partnership Accountability 

Coach-Client Relationship

There are clients that find it difficult to be accountable to themselves (they are higher in number though). These set of clients need accountability partners for them to commit to their goals. Yes, very much people are better being accountable to others rather than themselves. This is based on the mindset that most people care about their reputation and wouldn’t want to let other people down.

A study by Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor, shows that people who share their goals with other people are twice likely to achieve them than those who don’t. This means that when your clients share their goals with people who can hold them accountable, their goals are achieved faster.

Accountability partners help to keep your clients on their toes. They can get called out when they mess up, and receive encouragement when it gets tough. They have someone to motivate them all the way till they get their desired results. The journey to achieving goals is made easier with an accountability partner.

An accountability partner can be you. As their coach, you should provide them with world-class support as they work towards achieving their goals. They can also be accountable to friends and loved ones, who will always ask for progress reports, support them, and celebrate with them for milestones achieved. Your clients can also join accountability groups, where they have people that can motivate and encourage them to achieve their goals. In the end, it’s about your clients having the necessary drive to take action and get rewarding outcomes.

How to Make Your Clients Accountable 

The truth is that most clients look up to their coaches to make them accountable. If they need an accountability partner, the first stop is usually the coach. This puts a lot of responsibility in your hands as a coach.

Here are a few ways you can make your clients accountable.

1. Be Clear on Set Goals 

Coach-Client Relationship

If you want your clients to be accountable, you need to be sure the goal is clear and specified. The “what”, “why’, “how”, and “when” need to be clearly understood by the client. You can’t expect to hold a client accountable for something they are not clear on.

The truth is that most of your clients have an idea of what they want to achieve. However, they usually take the generalized form; “I want to lose weight”, “I want to get married”, “I want to be a millionaire”, and all that. It is your job to help them have a definitive look at the goal they want to achieve. The goals have to be very specific and clear.

You also need to help the client identify outside supportive resources – people and places that can facilitate the actualization of set goals. There has to be measurable outcomes and well-defined timelines. The risk factor should also be considered and measures put in place to either mitigate or surmount them.

If the nitty-gritty of the goal is carefully understood by the client, it is easier to make them accountable to action-taking.

2. Use Their Accountability Language. 

Coach-Client Relationship

Every client is different and so, the approach you use on them should also be different. Everyone has an accountability language – an approach that gets them to take action.

Growing up, my sister and I always didn’t like doing our homework (I’m sure you can relate with that). However, my parents had a way of making us do it. For me, a threat to take away my game console was enough to get me to do whatever they wanted of me. For my sister, well, turning off the TV just when The Simpsons was about to be aired got her to work.

Your clients have something that triggers them to work. When you are done with clarifying the goal, find out from the client the best way to hold them accountable. Some clients might require “a kick in the butt”, while others might just need “a bear hug”. It is your duty to find out what works for your client.

You also have to be sensitive to know when an approach isn’t working. Some clients can be crafty. They will tell you to gently hold their hands, when what they need is a little “spank” every now and then. However, any approach you take should be with the intention of getting them to achieve their goals.

Using the appropriate accountability language will help you keep your client focused on the task ahead. You also stand a better chance at getting them their desired results because you’re in tune with their style and needs.

3. Create an Air of Urgency 

Coach-Client Relationship

One of the reasons clients don’t take action is that they don’t see it as important. Yes, they will tell you that they see it as important, but in reality, it isn’t that way. The onus is now on you as a coach to raise the urgency level of every action that the client needs to take.

There’s this story I was told when I was a kid. It was about a man who was asked to jump a wall, and he couldn’t. All efforts to get him to jump the wall were futile. They kept going back and forth until a lion was released from behind him. Knowing he had to either jump or become food for the lion, he jumped.

Now, I don’t know if that story happened. However, some of your clients could be likened to that man. They can only be accountable and take action when they feel their lives depend on it. If they don’t get motivated by what they would gain, they should be motivated by what they stand to lose. You have to find a way to make them attach importance to the process of achieving their goal. That way, you can make them accountable.

Caveat: Do not create a sense of urgency because you want the client to do what you want. This will be playing on their intelligence. Rather, create the need for urgency, because the action you need them to take is essential to the achievement of their goals.

Final Words…

In the coaching business, result is the key word. If clients are not getting results, it does not tell well on your business. This can’t happen if they aren’t accountable. Accountability is what spurs them to take action.

I have given you three ways you can make your clients become accountable. Apply them in your coaching business and enjoy massive results – for your client and your business.

If you feel you need help implementing this, we are ready to help you.

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