Four Levels of Being Accountable

Peter Cook - The New Rules of ManagementI’m currently reading Peter Cook’s book The New Rules of Management. It’s about implementation and how to get things done. Peter suggests that implementing projects that matter is the new mantra for management.

Wired for the Short-Term

One of the things that stand out for me from reading his book is sections on how to be accountable.

Peter suggests that our brains are not wired for pursuing long-term results. Instead, back in the days of running away from sabre tooth tigers the focus and therefore the core development of our brains was simply to survive the day. In other words, we’re wired for short-term results. Whilst, ‘surviving the day’ is sometimes our experience, we’re no longer talking about life and death, just being emotionally, mentally and physically drained.

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Being Accountable

To create projects that matter we need to overcome this short-term bias. We need to tradd our desire for short-term pleasure into short-term pain so we can turn out projects that provide us with long-term pleasure.

One of the ways to do this is through accountability structures. In The New Rules of Management, Peter Cook shares four levels of accountability.

1 Private

Holding yourself to account is important because there is not always someone watching over us to make sure something gets done. It’s also the toughest. And, that’s why the other three levels are so valuable.

2 Peer

One of my peer accountability structures is a Mastermind group that I belong to. We meet each other, share our progress, receive feedback and hold each other to account to completing our tasks. The driver here is that we want to look good in front of peers which research suggests is usually stronger than our personal drive for success.

3 Positional

The next level of accountability is to respect people in various positions. This could be your boss, your parents or a leader in your industry. Again, the driver is looking good, this time because of respect we have for the role that person plays.

4 Public

The fourth level of accountability is the public domain. For instance, giving a speech in public or even blogging every day (like me!). When we make a public declaration about what we are setting out to achieve we are putting our reputation on the line.

Accountable in Your Life

The suggestion is that the more of these levels we have in play around a project the greater the chance of success. And, this presumes that we’re working on a project that matters.

• Where are you accountable in your life?
• Where is accountability missing?
• And, which of the four levels of accountability do you need to add to your current projects?


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