Who's Got Your Back: Accountability (Part 4 of 5)

07/11/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

This is the fourth of an exclusive five-part series based on the instant #1 New York Times bestseller Who's Got Your Back: The Breakthrough Program to Build Deep, Trusting Relationships That Create Success--and Won't Let You Fail (Broadway Business) by Keith Ferrazzi.

Creating an accountability policy for your mutual support team is about more than discipline-it's also about ensuring fair and respectful treatment that applies to everyone equally. As Thomas Paine put it in Common Sense, "For as in absolute governments the king is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other."

2009-06-10-bookjacket.jpgHow will your circle of advisors hold each other accountable to their goals? The first time you meet as a team, discuss and put some rules in writing. Besides accountability to individual goals and actions, create policy around issues like missed meetings, failure to actively pursue goals, disrespectful behavior, and failure to maintain strict confidentiality. Creating structure will add to your group's effectiveness and longevity.

Set up a protocol in advance so that everyone knows the rules and the penalties. The personalities of your group will determine how you deal with failed commitments-and they will happen. You want to strike a balance between helping people grow beyond their shortfalls, on one hand, and having a system with enough "teeth" so that people strive hard to stay disciplined, on the other.

Your group should have a rotating "monitor," someone who ensures that the group keeps to time limits and takes care of any administrative needs. This person should also record and distribute the goals and actions each person commits to carrying out between meetings. Besides sending the list out over e-mail, this person should also bring a printed copy to the next meeting to review during personal/professional check-ins. The monitor might also act as the group's "Yoda" for the day-gently pointing out when someone is diverging from the Four Mind-Sets and the other guidelines you establish. Official permission to be candid can help hesitant members get in the practice of speaking up.