Accountability Partner Checklist: What To Look For

Finding the right accountability partner is a struggle. I know, because it took me many attempts before I finally got with the right person.

To speed up the process, I have created this accountability partner checklist. By knowing what qualities to look for, you will save yourself a lot of time (and headache).

Learn about why you want your accountability partner to be brutally honest with you, how they should ideally communicate with you, and what you can do to attract the best accountability partner into your life.

15 Qualities To Look for in an Accountability Partner

Here are the 15 key traits of an outstanding accountability partner. They should form the basis of any accountability partner checklist.

Note: No one person will tick all of these boxes perfectly. That’s too much to expect. But the more, the better.

1. They Must Be Reliable

If your accountability partner doesn’t show up to meetings or doesn’t check in with you as agreed, there is no point in continuing the relationship.

They must be reliable. They must do as they said. That’s the whole point — when you are stumbling, they must be there to catch you.

2. They Must Give It to You Straight

In everyday life, people tend to beat about the bush. Maybe they are afraid to hurt the other person’s feelings. Maybe they are afraid to get punished for telling the truth.

In certain contexts, this can be the right move, e.g., at work. But not with your accountability partner. This must be the one space where you give it to each other straight.

Otherwise, there is no point. Your accountability partner must mirror your deficits back to you. When you acknowledge them, you can overcome them.

3. They Must Communicate Calmly

I just said your accountability partner must give it to you straight. But that doesn’t mean they should revel in dishing out the pain.

Yes, they must tell you what is going on with you, and where exactly you are lying to yourself. No sugarcoating.

But they must do so as if they were trying to figure out a math problem. Calmly. Analytically. Almost devoid of emotion.

Their objective should be to be as true as possible. And when you are trying to be true, you have to think deeply. The minute you get emotional, the truth goes out the window.

4. They Must Know the Limit

You want your accountability to tell you the truth. And you want them to do so calmly.

But even then, you might eventually reach your limit. There is only so much hard truth we can digest in one sitting. Once that limit is reached, they have to stop. You must first reboot before this process can be continued.

This is a fine line to walk. As I said, your accountability must push you. They must make you face the facts. At the same time, they must know when to stop pushing you and not break you.

5. They Must Suggest Solutions

The perfect accountability partner doesn’t just point out your deficits to you — they also suggest solutions.

Let’s say your accountability partner noticed your tendency to lie to yourself about your social media addiction. They will first confront you about it. But then they might also say, “How about you don’t check social media for the first 30 minutes of the day? We could track this together. And then we could slowly increase that interval.”

Here, you are not just left hanging with an uncomfortable truth. You are also getting a reasonable suggestion on how to overcome the problem.

Notice that I said “suggestion.” Your accountability should offer ideas, but they shouldn’t insist on their solutions. If you have a better idea, then they should be open to that as well. Their suggestions are just starting points for discussion.

6. They Must Listen Closely

It’s imperative that your accountability partner listens to you closely. They must really pay attention to what you are saying and, even more importantly, pick up on what you are not saying.

This requires a good attention span and the ability to remember details. It also requires your accountability partner to keep his ego in check. Most people want to override the other person while they are still explaining themselves because they think they already know what their problem is.

Your accountability partner should be wiser than that. They should be able to shut up, listen, and keep an open mind.

7. They Must Get You

Ideally, you and your accountability have corresponding values. If you similarly think about the world, it will be easier to understand and advise each other.

For example, if building your business is your number one priority in life and your accountability partner feels the same, you will already share certain goals, be familiar with certain frameworks, and understand the work and the sacrifices that go into it. This will speed up both of your results.

Vice versa, you should stay away from people who are fundamentally different from you. If you are a boundary-pushing free spirit, and your accountability partner is an ultra-conservative Christian, chances are, it won’t work out. Sooner or later, your ways of life will clash.

8. They Must Not Impose Their Values on You

I just said that you want to pair with somebody who shares your values. But realistically, it will never be a perfect match. You might get 70 % or even 80 %, but never 100 %.

That means there is still plenty of room for friction and even conflict. For example, my accountability partner and I are very similar in terms of values. We both believe in thinking things through, not chasing emotional highs, discussing differences calmly, etc. We really get along exceptionally well most of the time.

But still, there are instances where our values and ideas about the world deviate from each other. He is fascinated with crypto and passive income models; I think that is hokum. Likewise, he can’t relate to my very German way of doing everything by the book, sticking with procedures at all costs, etc.

In such moments, your ideal accountability partner will let you know that they are disagreeing with you and they will also give you their reasons. But they will not impose their own, alternative values on you. They will be big enough to let you be and even consider that they might have it wrong and you might have it right.

9. They Must Cheer You On

One of the most important things an accountability partner can provide is encouragement.

It’s like having a coach in your corner as a boxer. When things aren’t going well, it’s easy to give up, even though you haven’t lost the fight yet. You just mentally falter.

But with a good coach (or a good accountability partner) that won’t happen. They will cheer you on when the going gets tough. Instead of giving up, you will push through.

On a side note, there are two ways to do this; ideally, your accountability partner should know them both. The first one is when they let you know, “You can do this, I believe in you.” This is positive encouragement.

But in some situations, they will have to use a different approach. They will provoke you a little bit, to activate your fighting spirit. “Are you just going to give up like this? Do you realize how pathetic that is?” This is negative encouragement.

You need both, but it is a fine line to walk. Too much negative encouragement, and you will come to resent your accountability partner. But too much positive encouragement and you won’t develop grit. A good accountability partner must get the mix right.

10. They Must Be a Role Model

It is very hard to take advice or encouragement from somebody that you don’t respect. If they don’t practice what they preach, you will not take them seriously — even if it’s good advice.

Thus, your ideal accountability partner should act as a role model. If they do as they said, they will inspire you to do the same.

They don’t have to be perfect. Nobody is. But they must inspire a least a little bit of awe in you when it comes to certain areas of life. If they have mastered one or two desirable skills, that’s already enough. They have proven their worth and thus, you can respect them.

11. They Must Have a Positive Outlook

Life is a struggle. Even when you are doing everything right, there will be unforeseen challenges that can derail you.

There are two ways of dealing with such challenges. You can give up and even grow bitter. Or you can face the challenge and trust there is a way to overcome it.

A good accountability partner will have the latter mindset. They will actively look for solutions and encourage you to do the same. This will create a positive dynamic for both of you.

Note: There is a difference between having a positive outlook and so-called “positive thinking.” Life is indeed hard sometimes. With a positive outlook, you acknowledge the challenge but readily face it. With “positive thinking,” you deny the challenge exists in the first place or you pretend it will take care of itself.

12. They Must Match Your Energy

If you both infect each other with your positive outlook on life, both of you will profit.

But often, there is an energy mismatch. One person is not pulling the other person along with their enthusiasm, but the other person is not providing any “infectious” energy in return. It’s not a fair partnership.

Your accountability partner should have a zest for action that at least matches your own. You want to feel energized after talking to them, even inspired.

13. They Must Celebrate Wins With You

When you have a win, you want your accountability partner to celebrate with you. Otherwise, if there is no one joining in, it doesn’t feel like a win. And then you’ll be less motivated to put the hard work in in the future.

It’s like winning a gold medal at the Olympics, but then no one ever learns about it. There must be spectators. There must be people telling you afterward what a great job you did. Then it will feel like all the sacrifices were worth it. Your accountability partner must act as your audience.

It’s key that their enthusiasm is genuine. That is rare. Most people will pretend that they are excited for you, but they aren’t. They might in fact be jealous of your success.

This will do nothing for you. It won’t energize you. It won’t make you want to do it all over again.

But with your ideal accountability partner, it will be different. They will be so invested in your progress, that every win you have will feel like their own win. They will want you to have wins because it makes them feel like winners themselves. This way, you are feeding off each other’s enthusiasm.

14. They Must Have a Similar Personality Type

You want an accountability partner who has a similar process to yours. If you are slow and methodical, going with somebody who is impulsive and free-flowing will create unnecessary friction.

In the same vein, if you are highly detail-oriented and they are big-picture thinkers, you will sooner or later clash. They will want to forge grand plans, while you are concerned with practicalities.

Ultimately, it comes down to differences in personality type, mainly where you sit on the introversion vs. extraversion scale.

It is important to address these differences in processes and personality. Many people are at least somewhat aware of where they fit in, yet fail to mention it to the other person explicitly. You must slowly find out over time by yourself, and, if there is a mismatch, start the search for an accountability partner all over again. That’s a waste of time.

Your ideal accountability partner will act differently. They will let you know beforehand how they work, to make sure you are compatible with each other.

15. They Should Have Similar Goals (Optional)

Ideally, you want an accountability partner whose goals are similar to yours. If you both want to get fit or build your own business, it will be easier to connect over these goals. Also, you can exchange know-how.

However, this is a nice-to-have, not a must-have. If in doubt, it’s better to with somebody who is reliable but has different goals than with somebody who has the same goal but is unreliable.

Accountability Partner Checklist: At a Glance

Okay, now that you know what to look for, here is the CliffsNotes version.

Find someone …

  1. … who is reliable, e.g., who shows up on time.
  2. … who gives it to you straight; no sugarcoating facts.
  3. … who communicates calmly. Truth yes, anger no.
  4. … who understands when you need a break.
  5. … who also offers solutions.
  6. … who listens closely to you and remembers details.
  7. … who has similar ideas about the world.
  8. … who doesn’t impose their viewpoints on you.
  9. … who cheers you on when you are struggling.
  10. … who acts as a role model to you (at least in some things).
  11. … who faces challenges constructively (instead of just giving up).
  12. … who is not an energy vampire.
  13. … who is genuinely excited about your wins.
  14. … who is similar in temperament to you.
  15. … who has similar goals to you (optional).

How To Find Your Ideal Accountability Partner

It’s one thing to know what to look for in an accountability partner by having an accountability partner checklist. It’s another thing to find somebody who embodies all these qualities. It’s tough. But there are some things you can do to improve your chances of matching the right person.

1. Lead With Value

How do you find the ideal accountability partner? By becoming the ideal partner yourself first.

I cannot stress this enough. You must lead with value. You must become the absolute best accountability partner you can be.

How do you do that? By working through the list above and asking yourself, “Do I really possess this quality? Or am I falling short here?”

Most of the time, it will be the latter. But now you know what you need to work on. Incorporate these desirable qualities into your everyday interactions until people start complimenting you about them. This is how you will know you have succeeded. And now, soon, you will find the ideal accountability partner. They will want to partner with you because you now have something to offer.

2. Think About the Level of Closeness

Most people resort to family, lovers, and friends when they are looking for an accountability partner. I think that is a bad idea.

Someone close to you will never be as straightforward with you as a stranger. They don’t want to hurt your feelings. And they are already too invested in the relationship themselves. They don’t want to miss out on certain goodies by offending you.

Find someone you are not close to yet to be your accountability partner. This could be a virtual accountability partner or it could be an accountability coach. Disclaimer — I offer such services. But even if you don’t want to pay, it’s still better to start with a stranger. It will be a clean slate.

3. Give Feedback

Let each other know how you need to be talked to.

If you need your accountability partner to be stricter with you, tell them. If they are expecting too much of you right away, also tell them.

Yes, in an ideal world, your accountability partner would just know. But that’s not realistic. Even someone very perceptive will sometimes misread you, and, as a consequence, mistreat you.

But the fault is not so much with them as with you. Misinterpretations happen. It is your job to point them out (calmly) and fix them straight away, instead of letting the conflict fester, which is what most people do.

Tell them what you need, and you will be much more likely to get it.

Leave a Comment