Accountability is important to me.  It is important to be accountable to myself and GTD is how I hold myself accountable to the commitments I have in all aspects of my life.  Because my trusted system is a closed loop system I know that once I capture something I will not lose track of it.  I may decide to move it to a Someday/Maybe list and not act on it right now but I know I will not lose track of my commitments.

The sense of accountability and responsibility is relevant in all aspects of life.  It is critical with my wife, with my kids, in my social life and in my professional life.  When managing others I believe I have the responsibility to hold people accountable to the commitments they make.  If an employee is responsible for completing a task and they have made an agreement to complete the task, it is their responsibility to complete the task or re-negotiate it.  High performing employees are proactive in this regard.  If they are having trouble completing a task they proactively inform me of the issues they are having so I can help resolve the issue, re-prioritize their work or re-negotiate the commitment.

Lower performing employees are not proactive in surfacing the issues or problems that they encounter in keeping their commitment.  Typically, they wait until they have missed their commitment or until it is too late to meet the commitment before informing me.  This is extremely frustrating – especially if it was something that had they ten proactive they could have met the commitment.  It also leads to excuses and in extreme examples leads to “throwing a colleague under the bus” in an attempt to explain how or why they were unable to meet their commitments.  These individuals would greatly benefit form practicing GTD so they would always have an accurate and up-to-date inventory of all of their commitments.  If you believe you may be one of these individuals I highly recommend you listen to Manager Tools “Owning the Inputs” podcast.

One of the greatest things we can do as human beings is to accept the simple fact that we need to be accountable to ourselves.  Once we accept this, we realize that we can not fool ourselves.  Once we are truly accountable to ourselves, we can be truly accountable to others.  This acceptance allows us to grow immensely and accept reality.

About Michael Keithley

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