I’ve been thinking a lot about why accountability is so effective in groups. I think the number one reason is that we care what others think of us.
We are social animals, and it matters to us what our status is in our “tribe.” But there is a hierarchy of how much we care what others think, depending on who the others are and how well we know them.
We feel more accountable to people when we know them better, and also when they are more like us. Being held accountable by someone with more “status” than us can start to feel like an exercise in being ashamed. Sometimes it’s hard when you are the coach, to draw that fine line between, “I understand; you had a tough week” and “What excuse do you have this time?”
So let me sum this up. Groups work for accountability better than individual coaching because:
- We are social animals and we care what others think.
- The more people who are paying attention to what we’re working on, the more powerful the accountability is.
- There is no power imbalance among group members, so they are freer to question excuses.
- Other group members are in the trenches with you, so have a more immediate understanding of the struggles
- Each member becomes quite familiar with each others’ activities and goals, so there are more eyes on each person. This multiplies the accountability effect.
- Members grow to care how the others are doing, which make the accountability much strong.
- Peer pressure and peer modeling is more powerful than just coach pressure and modeling, again because they are peers.
Groups still need leaders, so I’m not saying coaches are irrelevant! But in planning your own practice or coaching business, keep in mind the power of groups in keeping your clients accountable and in helping them achieve. They are cost effective, and they work! You can bring in more clients and impact more people.
What are your experiences with keeping people accountable in individual coaching and in groups? What works and what doesn’t?