Embedding accountability into coaching relationships

Marshall Goldsmith says, “There is an enormous disconnect between understanding and doing…” (What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful, 2007). There are so many things I know I need to do and every day I fail to do them. It’s not that they are not important, actually some of them are essential, but I still fail to do them.  Why is that?

We are all different people. Having said that, here is how I explain my lack of doing. First, I get distracted easily. I have a very curious mind. If something I find interesting catches my attention, there goes my calendar and my time! Second, I work best when I am under pressure.
Deadlines are my “superpower!” The problem is that sometimes things pile up and there are too many deadlines and my superpower becomes my “kryptonite.”

One of our functions as coaches is to help our coachees embed accountability steps into their coaching plans. By inviting the coachee to develop accountability steps we are offering them an opportunity to achieve success and, to some extent, manage distractions. As coaches we want to encourage them to choose someone outside the coaching relationship to be their accountability partner, bearing in mind that by virtue of being their coach, we are already partnering with them in the accountability process.
Going back to my story, this process of accountability with a coach has been one of the most vital steps in my personal growth. Knowing that I need to report back to my coach, oftentimes keeps me focused on my priorities and aligned with my goals. 


  1.  What role does action and accountability play in your coaching?
  2.  How much importance do you put into accountability from your Coachees? 
  3.  How do you ensure Coachees understand the importance of accountability?
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MarQuita Carmichael - October 9th, 2022 at 6:53pm

Action and accountability are very important in my coaching, The coachee's progress and participation in that progression is essential. The coachee's level of motivation around their topic helps keep them encouraged and focused on making what they feel are neccessary adjustments in orfer to live into what they ay is their preferred future.

Accountability is so key in my coaching practice that I ask during each session, " Who can help you be accountable with you say are th most important next steps? What would motivate you to take the first tep you have identified that you intend to take?"

Tom Smith - October 10th, 2022 at 6:21pm

1. For me the role of action and accountability is what 'landing the plane' from a session is all about. If we spend 20-25 minutes with a client probing The Who and then fail to ask about next steps and accountability partners then really what was the point? Action and accountability prevent the act of being coached from becoming the end and keeps it the means.

2. I tend to be very gracious when it comes to holding a coachee accountable and I feel I need to be more assertive in this area. I attended a webinar offered and the coach created an x-y graph with the x axis 'devotion/compassion and the y axis, standards. High standards, high devotion equaled Justice. Low standards and high devotion represented fidelity. If both were low it is neglect and high standards low devotion she labelled severity. Justice, she proposed should be the goal=high standards, high devotion to the client.

3. I think I need to weave it into every session from the first day-including the language of my contract and overarching agreement. Also, by using Direct Communication to share how I need to have accountability in my own life may help too-like Jim does in the above commentary. Naming the challenges one has with accountability offers opportunities for creative responses.

Dan Solomon - October 16th, 2022 at 9:22pm

Tom, I think you are correct in pointing out the importance of weaving accountability into every session. I want to place an increased emphasis on this in the initial session.

Dan Solomon - October 16th, 2022 at 9:18pm

1. Action and accountability play a central role in my coaching. Until recently I tended to focus on the 'what" of the client's situation. Moving forward I want to place an increased emphasis on connecting action and accountability with the 'who' . This will help embed the client's learning and connect to their intrinsic motivation. All of this will tend to lead to deep and effective change for the client. I want to focus on the effective use of marker 8.4.

2. I regularly expect and encourage accountability of my clients. As a result I often have opportunity to celebrate the growth of the client. Additionally, as checking in with the client on how they've done in terms of accountability provides frequent additional opportunities for growth.

3. I try to underscore the connection between accountability and the client's desire to change. I also lift up the connection the client's accountability and the possibility of our coaching conversation helping the client move forward and move deeper in their life.

Tom Pietz - November 14th, 2022 at 8:26pm

What role does action and accountability play in your coaching? My Coaching Website is entitled "Livin' The Dream Life Coaching" which involves naming areas in one's life, wholistically, that the client would like to improve upon, focus on, to live into a preferred future. Oftentimes I will use SMART goals as a tool for client's to craft goals with specifics that lead to clear action steps and deadlines.

How much importance do you put into accountability from your Coachees? I will always stress for them to state what action steps they will take, who will support them or hold them accountable, and perhaps, have the client submit the goal to me at a particular date or before we meet next time.

How do you ensure Coachees understand the importance of accountability? Ask them what the consequences are if they do not proceed with action steps? Ask them how important it is for them to move forward.

Kim Boldt - November 16th, 2022 at 9:15pm

I would want accountability to play a key role, but it's a struggle I have in my own life. It's hard to lead in areas of personal weakness. I am a voracious learner, but also a broad one. I often struggle to focus.

Because of my own experience with wanting to be a more disciplined person, with a better track record of accountability to myself and others, I would want to build in accountability steps from the beginning. This would include encouraging their own sense of agency, and inviting them into setting calendar dates for deliverable outcomes.

Lea Kone - November 20th, 2022 at 3:57pm

I agree that although the coach is not in the role of being the accountability partner, I have always been motivated to have done my "homework" before a next coaching session. I think that can be a powerful motivator for people who are motivated by keeping other people happy. If that that is not their motivating factor, then perhaps exploring what DOES motivate them and incorporate that into the accountability section of a coaching session. So that rather than WHO can hold you accountable, it might be WHAT is going to hold you accountable depending upon the person.

Jeff Smith - November 25th, 2022 at 7:33pm

I haven't done any coaching yet, but if I do, I will be sure to make sure accountability is built into the process. I'll emphasize that such accountability will make it far more likely the coachee accomplishes the next steps they have committed too during a coaching session.