Accountability: The BIG Guardrail of Personal Leadership

Hello everyone, it’s Brian Bratti again with this week’s edition on BIG Leadership.  This is the 3rd installment in a 3 month weekly series on Leadership with this month’s theme being Personal Leadership.  Next month we’ll delve into leading others (which is what is commonly referred to as “leadership”) and end in June on the subject of developing others – the legacy responsibility of all leaders. Initially, we looked at how not being intentional about Personal Leadership is a BIG mistake.  Last week we considered how action was the BIG catalyst in Personal Leadership.  This week we’ll look at the subject of Accountability – The Guardrail of Personal Leadership.  I call Accountability a guardrail because I believe your Personal Leadership Growth Plan is like a road that is full of potholes (or gaps as we discussed two weeks ago) and surrounded by ditches and ravines that are easy to veer off into as life throws its demands your way as you pursue to improve yourself as a person and as a leader.  Thus, if you want to keep yourself from careening into a ditch or off a cliff from the road that will take you from where you are to where you desire to go, getting involved in an accountability program is one of the best actions you can do for yourself in this regard.

When we think of accountability we often harken back to the old fashion (and in my opinion completely outdated) yearly performance appraisal process with an employer.  To be quite frank, I’m surprised that employers still rely on this antiquated and generally ineffective tool to drive results and influence behavior.  It’s a process that can be can be perfunctory at best and unnecessarily painful at worst, often riddled with subjectivity, errors and documentation issues.  If an employer annual review is your idea of accountability, then I wouldn’t blame you for not embracing it as a means to help you grow.  But, I’ll leave the subject of improving that process for another day other than to say this is not what I’m suggesting when it comes to accountability in the personal growth context.  So if you are interested in looking at a more practical and user friendly mechanism for accountability, let’s take a look to see what other accountability possibilities you can consider to help you enhance your chances of staying on your personal growth road.

I believe accountability can come in one of two forms:  group and one-on-one and can be formal and informal.  Let’s take a look at the group model first:

Informal Study Groups

Generally, groups of this nature take the form of people getting together for a common purpose like a church Bible study which can involve both men and women in the same group or be segregated by gender.  I am a big supporter of these groups as they help enrich us and others through shared learning, fellowship, receiving and giving varying opinions and insights, etc.  And, as a married Christian man, I have participated and continue to participate in both men’s and couple’s Bible study groups on a weekly basis.   While these experiences have been a huge blessing in my life, I find they do not by themselves offer the level of accountability needed for me to further my Personal Leadership Growth Plan to drive the positive results I seek.  The reason for this is, as a general rule, these kinds of groups normally have informal accountability among members at best.  The main goal of these groups is learning and socializing, not accountability necessarily.  Many times confidentiality among members of these informal groups is based on the Las Vegas model (what is said in the group stays in the group) rather than a formal written agreement.  Finally, these groups are often not professionally facilitated with the intention of solving particular problems, establishing definitive plans of action going forward or creating a vibrant system of accountability for change and results.  Thus, while these kinds of groups definitely fill a valuable need in all of our lives and I highly recommend them, relying on them as your guardrail can be a bit dubious at best.  However, if you find you need more fellowship, ideas and camaraderie with others who can give you some loose level of accountability, these might be a smart choice for you.

Mastermind Groups (MMGs)

These groups offer more in the form of structure and are formed for a particular learning objective (For example, I lead an MMG that is centered on leadership and based on John Maxwell’s book “Leadership Gold”).  They normally have a definite beginning and end, the duration of which can be for as little as a few weeks or as long as a few months and usually meet for about an hour or so once a week.  Most MMGs are organized and facilitated by a professionally trained facilitator whose job is to keep the process productive and ensure the learning is not just for information but for application as well.  Confidentiality issues are usually handled Vegas style as well and the participants make personal obligations from what they learned from the material studied.  There is often encouragement for people to reach goals but goals are not formally tracked from meeting to meeting in most instances other than a general discussion among the group.  Thus, while these groups tend to have an increased level accountability over an informal Bible or book study, it is often limited to the time available for each member during the weekly sessions and when the group ends, the accountability usually ends. For those interested in pursuing this concept further, I offer some great mastermind group programs via the John Maxwell Team both in person and online.  See my website for more details.  So, if you are hungry to learn and apply growth and leadership concepts to your life with a higher degree of accountability for results, MMGs might be the way to go for you.

Formal Peer Advisory Groups or Boards (PABs)

I call these kinds of groups the graduate school of accountability in a group setting because their main objective is not just learning but, more importantly, application and accountability for professional and organizational growth and solutions to particular problems.  Unlike MMGs, PABs normally meet monthly for either half a day or a whole day and are designed to continue meeting for as long as the members desire with many groups of this nature meeting for many years, growing and holding each other accountable for results.  Like MMGs, they are often facilitated by a professionally trained facilitator but follow a more rigorous and defined meeting agenda.  Unlike MMGs, they normally require a signed confidentiality agreement because the nature of the subject matter that could be discussed (such as corporate financials, etc.).  The PAB program with which I’m most familiar is the CBMC Leadership Institute Peer Advisory Board Program for which I am the Director in Charlotte North Carolina.  In this program, designed for Christian men who are CEOs/Business Owners & Senior Executives, we take these leaders out of their businesses once a month so they can work on their businesses and faith with other like-minded business leaders.  I tell people we offer MBA level business and leadership training with MDiv level theology along with a crucial meeting segment that is specifically designed to help a business owner solve a pressing spiritual/family/business problem with the help of his “Board of Advisors.”  Key to this process is the leader deciding from among the suggestions provided by his peers, a course of action the progress on which he will report to his “Board” in the following and subsequent months.  Thus, while business and faith learning and training is an integral part of the experience, the accountability of following up on next steps is likewise crucial.  There are also secular forms of this model, all of which help leaders in critical positions of authority navigate their businesses without feeling they have to “go it alone.”  If you are a Christian businessman with the title of CEO, Business Owner or Senior Executive and is interested in being part of a group of 8-12 similar Christian business leaders to help you take your personal leadership, faith and organization to the next level, then CBMC’s Leadership Institute may be something for you.  Again, feel free to check out my website at or go to for more details how you can take advantage of this amazing tool available for your Personal Leadership.

Executive/Leadership Coaching

Now all of the above programs offer tremendous personal growth opportunities and I highly recommend you consider exploring each one for yourself.  As indicated, each has varying levels of accountability and all serve a great purpose in our lives.  However, I strongly believe if you really want to increase your chances of accountability and take your Personal Leadership Growth Plan to the next level, a formal Executive/Leadership coaching arrangement cannot be beat.  In a formal coaching relationship, the sessions are all about the person being coached (namely, you) but unlike athletic coaching, you are not “taught” or “trained” in the classical sense (remove the picture of a barking, yelling, drill-instructor type football coach from your thinking).  Rather, you are coached to think for yourself, look for answers inside yourself and come up with solutions and accountabilities that only you can provide with the help of a dedicated and professionally trained coach who is only focused on one thing – you.  While group coaching and the others mentioned above can provide varying levels of accountability, you are still sharing a resource for this purpose and thus your results will be limited to what that resource is able to provide to the group as a whole.  In a personal coaching format, all the focus is on you, your goals, aspirations and agenda.  It is similar to having private golf lessons vs. group golf lessons with the major difference being that you are not being “taught how to” do what is you want to do but are encouraged to think for yourself and explore the resources already inside you for taking your game to the next level.  Moreover, if you are simultaneously part of a MMG or PAB and in a formal coaching relationship with a professionally trained coach, you get the double benefit of receiving sound training and advice from others along with the assistance of a coach to help you sort out where it all fits into your growth and plans.  So, if you want to ratchet up your accountability to the highest level, consider engaging an Executive/Leadership coach to help you grow in your Personal Leadership.

That’s about all I have this week on accountability.  While certainly not exhaustive, these are some of the many options available for you to keep yourself safely on the road to Personal Leadership by avoiding potholes/gaps and steering clear of ditches and ravines awaiting you when you face the inevitable curves and bends that comprise every personal growth road.  At Bratti Innovation Group (BIG) we offer Mastermind Groups, Executive Coaching and Christian CEO/Business Owner Peer Advisory Board Programs to help you establish accountability guardrails as you navigate this terrain.  Again, check us out at for more details.

Next week, we’ll finish up this month’s topic on Personal Leadership by looking at the topic that safeguards us not by keeping us on the road but by making sure the road we’re on is still the right one:  The Law of Reflection from John Maxwell’s book, “The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth.”  Thanks and have a blessed week.