Reclaiming, Transforming Accountability Strengthens Socialised Mavericks and encourages you to work less! You have most likely been taught a form of accountability that drives you towards burnout, especially if you have been socialised as a woman, and your boss is benefiting from it.
I’m sure you’ve heard these before:
- “Hold them accountable”
- “Make sure Mark’s numbers are correct in the report”
- “It is up to you to make sure this finishes on time.”
While these statements may sound innocuous, they aren’t. In fact, this form of accountability is destined to wear you out, slow down your career growth, limit your goal achievement, and cap your income.
This form of accountability is actually not-so-hidden control. Controlling others, controlling shared situations, and controlling the uncontrollable – which is about as far from the true definition of accountability as you can get. Webster’s Dictionary defines accountability as “an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions” (emphasis mine).
Real accountability is an empowering habit based upon clarity, boundaries, communication, and excellence to empower you. Real accountability is a force to stressing and working less. Real accountability reduces extended conflicts, crystalises timelines and scopes, and creates opportunities for everyone involved. Real accountability lines up with the Socialised Maverick  who is working with their skills in balance, both highly analytical and empathic.
Yet, how does a person practice real accountability in the real world?
I offer a suggestion to reclaim accountability and transform it into a superpower for stressing less and working less: the Accountability Triangle.
The Accountability Triangle is a framework I use with my clients. It is rooted in the numerous certifications I have as well as established research, including:
- Erickson Solution Focused Coaching
- Prosci Change Management Practitioner, specifically stakeholder management
- Project Management Institute, specifically RACI
- Karpman Drama Triangle
- The Power of Ted*Empowerment Triangle
The Triangle has three elements: a shared outcome or goal, you and your accountabilities and responsibilities, a second person’s accountabilities and responsibilities.
First, you list out as specifically as possible the shared outcome and goal. Then you list out all of the actions and behaviors you are responsible for to reach the stated outcome and goal. Finally you repeat the list of the other person.
Second, you model out the actions you’ve taken to date with arrow. For each email, deliverable, meeting, reminder, report, and more you draw an arrow, either towards the goal or outcome or the person on the other side of the triangle. For example, a reminder email to the person is an arrow towards them. A completed report is an arrow toward the goal.
Third, you model out the action the other person has taken towards the goal and toward you, just like in step 2.
Congrats! You now have a clear model that outlines what each person is responsible for, the actions that you have been taking, and a clear overview of what is missing, how you or your partner is over- or under-producing.
Based upon my experience with clients all over the world, I bet you are already experiencing a moment of breakthrough. Before you rush into action, read further to ensure you take sustainable, supportive action that resolves conflict in service of the goal or outcome.
This is your strategic, brave moment. This is the time you reflect upon the widest range of solutions you can by answering a handful of questions:
- Who do you want to be in this triangle?
- What needs to change for you to become that person?
- What decisions are outstanding for you to make those changes? Many of my clients need to make decisions about how many times they will follow up, what quality means, what their availability boundaries are, and what their red lines are for behaviour from others.
- What brave choices are available to you?
Now with your clear vision for yourself, your decisions, and your wide range of options, you begin to shift your behaviour within the triangle. Many of my clients realise that they need to have a crucial conversation. Others decide to escalate for additional support, resources, or budget. Some understand that the triangle is broken and it is time for them to exit the triangle completely by shifting roles or jobs.
In every case, each woman shifts her relationship to accountability, reclaiming it as a habit to stress and work less as she builds an enjoyable, lucrative career.
How you have been taught accountability doesn’t serve you. This one does. Claim it as yours.
 Socialised Maverick – Judith Germain. The Maverick Paradox: The Secret Power Behind Successful Leaders (PublishNation 2017)