How to Keep Others Accountable

Brainstorming & Accountability

Photo credit: David Castillo Dominici

 A recurring theme from people in coach training sessions is around action and accountability. It’s easy for them to see people having “ah-hah” moments as a result of coaching but they wonder, “Does change really happen?” and, “What can I do as a coach or leader to keep people accountable?

Maybe you’ve wondered the same thing. I know I have. I remember when I was a pastor and we’d have these great meetings and brainstorming sessions. But then a week later, nothing had changed – we’d just had a great meeting.


In today’s ministry landscape, we’re at a point where we can’t afford not to take action. 20-30 years ago, you just opened the doors and people flocked to the church. Today, churches need to do things differently in order to attract new members and retain enough members to keep the doors open.


In order to turn the ah-hah moments of coaching into actual progress and change,

I offer the coaching tool of accountability.


There are three phases of the accountability process:


1) Brainstorming

2) Designing the action

3) Follow through


Let’s look more closely at the brainstorming phase.


Einstein spoke about the fact that you can’t solve a problem with the same mindset that created the problem. He and Benjamin Franklin have both been credited for saying, “insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results.


In order to avoid repeating the same thing and getting the same results, it’s helpful to look at a situation from a fresh perspective before taking any action.


There is a famous Indian parable that illustrates this point very nicely. Three blind men are asked to feel an elephant and describe what it is like. Because they are each touching a different part of the animal, they have very different descriptions, even though all are correct.


During the coaching process, the brainstorming phase is an invitation to close your eyes to what you’ve always known, thought and done, and explore things from an entirely different perspective.


On a humorous note, the character George Constanza from the television show Seinfeld had an epiphany during one episode when he decided that everything he had ever done was wrong and therefore he needed to do the opposite of his instincts. When he tried it out, he got great results!


Watch the Seinfeld clip on YouTube.


What might you discover by seeing your issue, problem or topic with fresh eyes?


Brainstorming is a great start, but accountability won’t happen without the next two phases. The second phase is designing and the action and the third phase is follow through. We’ll cover these in the next two weeks on the Coaching4Clergy blog.

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J. Val Hastings

J. Val Hastings, MCC, is the Founder and President of Coaching4Clergy, which provides specialized training for pastors, church leaders and coaches. Val is the author of the book The Next Great Awakening: How to Empower God’s People with a Coach Approach to Ministry and the e-book The E3-Church: Empowered, Effective and Entrepreneurial Leadership That Will Keep Your Church Alive. Val currently holds the designation of Master Certified Coach through the International Coach Federation, the highest coaching designation.

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