Where do you go to be completely honest with what you are feeling, thinking and going through without being judged? Who hears your heart with all its fears, joys and concerns? Who do you have to be straight up in your face honest with you, to let you hear the hard truth even when you do not want to hear it? Many of us, especially leaders, do not have such honesty and accountability in our lives. And for many, the consequences have been tragic.
I have come to learn that such honesty and accountability is essential for us as leaders. It helps to avoid the disillusionment of self-sufficiency. I have heard many people, myself included, say, “I know if I had a place to be honest and be held accountable, I would not have made many of the mistakes I made.”
As much as you would like to think this is not necessary, the reality is, it is an essential part of life and leadership. Accountability and honesty protects and helps you, it does not hurt you as you may believe.
You are probably saying what many of us have said when we were challenged to become honest and accountable in life, “who will I trust; I do not know anyone I can trust to be completely honest with?”
Let me suggest some ways you can start working toward being held accountable and honest.
A. Start by being intentional about seeking out people with whom you can become open and honest. Go out to coffee with people you admire for their honesty and vulnerability, and get to know them. Find people who demonstrate healthy spiritual, emotional and relational maturity.
Ask questions about areas of their life that attract you. Ask how they manage their emotions or have grown in faith to where they remain Christ-centered while living in the midst of some worldly distractions?
It often is helpful to find those who are struggling or have struggled in similar ways as you. There is a level of honesty and accountability that almost naturally evolves when we connect with our brokenness.
B. While this may not be a strict rule for all, I recommend you seek out persons of the same gender when sharing this level of vulnerability. Others would ask, what is the big deal about sharing with the opposite gender?
My experience and the experience of many shows that it is very risky to become this honest and accountable with someone of the opposite gender. Sharing with someone of the opposite gender on a regular basis at this level has the potential to lead to unhealthy emotional attachments. Why put yourself in such a risky position?
C. The connections do not always have to be in person. With all the means of communication we have at our disposal, we can very easily develop these relationships with people from literally anywhere in the world. Do not knock the use of technology for developing accountability and honesty with others until you have tried it.
I have been part of an accountability group for well over seven years now of which one member has been participating via Skype. I initially did not think it would work, but I am now convinced it works, and it works well. As a leadership coach I meet virtually with leaders around the world, helping them to be honest and accountable. The relationship could be with a friend, coach or mentor.
D. You must become intentional about being held accountable and honest. And for that to happen, it has to be scheduled on your calendar as important. You cannot afford to meet only when you think you can squeeze it in. Schedule it and stick with it, and you will come to realize how vitally important it is for you.
Accountability and honesty are crucial for all of us, but it is especially important for leaders. You will undoubtedly go farther faster and safer when you allow yourself to be accountable and honest to at least one person. A group of three or four is far more effective in that you get some different perspectives.
There is a freedom, peace and confidence that can only be experienced through being part of a group where you can be completely honest and be held accountable for how you live your life.
Question: Do you have a safe place? If not, what steps can you take today to start creating such a crucial relationship in your life?
If you would like help in achieving your goals as a leader or in any area of your life, call us at 208-880-0307 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a complimentary coaching session. To read Errol’s other posts, visit Christ-Centered Life Coaching.