We often hear that ‘there is no I in team’. But what happens when there is no-one else in your team?
An important consideration when setting up business on my own was how I would feel about not having the social element I was used to in my corporate work life. Although I am very happy in my own company, I get my energy from other people.
On balance I decided that it wouldn’t be a problem as I had generally worked in very small offices, often isolated from the rest of the business as executive suites can be. Besides I had friends to chat with when I needed to hear a friendly voice, and I would be meeting people through my work and networking.
This was all true, but I felt after a while that I was missing something, and after several months it was beginning to get me down.
I realised that as I was ‘flying solo’ what I was missing was not the practical support team that I have built up – I have my IT man, a webtech person and an accountant. What I was missing was someone on my side. I was missing the feeling of team that comes from having a shared purpose with your colleagues.
So I now have an ‘accountability partner’.
Working with an accountability partner
Accountability partners can either take the form of a business coach who you pay, or another person or small group of people in business, who you make an arrangement with to provide mutual support in the pursuit of your goals, each providing an exchange of ‘consultancy’ to the other.
I now have both, and they provide me with the support that I was missing. They are the team in my solo existence.
I realised that I had a sense of team with my clients, as my work tends to include the role of accountability partner for them, but I hadn’t had anyone supporting me in my own business.
The role of an accountability partner
Providing that extra push
It doesn’t matter how motivated you are, it is hard to keep pushing yourself out of your comfort zone to achieve more. An accountability partner encourages you to stretch yourself just a bit further than you think you can go. They keep you on track to achieve your goals. They believe in you.
Being a sounding board
If I am stuck, it sometimes helps to say the problem out loud before finding a way forward. An accountability partner can be a sounding board for ideas, and for the options you have to move forward, helping you decide what is the best next step. Sometimes I find I actually hold all the pieces of the jigsaw already, I just need some help to put them together.
Celebrating the wins
It’s great having someone on your side, someone who recognises your achievements, however small. With an accountability partner I can say ‘I’m really proud of that’ and let myself enjoy the moment with the support of someone who understands what it took to achieve that goal.
Being a shoulder to cry on
An accountability partner is also someone who is there for you when things have not gone the way you would hope. A good accountability partner will not let you wallow, but will allow you to acknowledge your disappointment before encouraging you to pick yourself up, learn the lessons you need to, and then move on.
Being the one to tell you
In a trusting accountability partnership you will find the one person who will be prepared to be completely honest with you, to tell you the truth as they see it, with your best interests at heart.
Having an accountability partner who performs these roles is fantastic. You feel the sense of team you get through sharing a common purpose. They are on your side and they have an interest in your achievements.
But, even better, it is recognised that we achieve more when we feel accountable. We don’t want to let anyone else down, and that keeps us focused on the goals we have set with an accountability partner. As a result, productivity is increased.
Who is in your team, keeping you motivated and on track to achieve your goals?