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You aren't Your Client's Parents! Accountability is their job not yours.

Updated: Sep 17, 2021

Hot Take!

You should only hold a client accountable for three things:

  1. Respecting your boundaries

  2. Keeping your time

  3. Signing your contract and paying your invoice

That's it!

You don't need to hold your client's hand, nor to wag your finger.

Every so often, you are going to run into a client who wants you to parent them. To either keep them in line or railroad them to success. Good or bad, what we really mean is that they want you to hold them accountable for their actions.

On the negative side of the accountability spectrum, this includes:

  • Nagging

  • Shame

  • Guilt

  • Fault-finding

  • Scolding

  • Finger pointing

  • Embarrassment

  • Blame

On the positive end, what accountability should entail is:

  • Responsibility

  • Being answerable

  • Ownership

  • Commitments

So where does a coach fit into accountability? Do we ditch the whole concept all together? Or is that throwing the baby out with the bathwater?

We answer these questions and more with Lisa Finck (A.C.C.), Brooke Adair Walters (M.C.P.C.), Jerome LeDuff Jr (M.C.L.C.), Anthony Lopez (M.C.P.C). on CLCI Live to discuss how we as coaches can still encourage accountability in our clients, without being responsible for their successes and failures.

You aren't an Accountant, You're a Coach!

Unless you really are an accountant...then good for you.

Otherwise, holding accountability for your client is something that falls distinctly outside of the coaching realm and it is something we do not recommend.

Let's give two examples why we don't

1.) Say your client asks you to call them at 6am every morning to wake them up and go on their mile run. Then you, the coach, are to call them back at 6:30am to make sure they went on their run.

We can at least agree that this would be motivating. The problem arises if you ever forget to set your alarm and call them; their failure is now on you. YOU neglected to hold them accountable and now YOU are responsible for them not accomplishing their goal.

By doing this, you've essentially inserted yourself and made yourself an essential part of their strategy to attain their goals. This is a recipe for disaster and can lead to some serious resentment for both the coach and client.

2.) What if your client finds great success by holding them accountable. You may love bending over backwards for them and working for free. But when it comes down to it, you are partly responsible for their success.

That's a bad thing

A coach allows and acknowledges that their client has full ownership of every win and even every failure. That moment in the sun is for them and what you did was empower them to find that excellence that was already there.

But My Client Needs Some Accountability! They Said so Themselves!

"If you don't stick to your goals, I'm going to drop you off this cliff" - Accountability Coach

We aren't saying you should ditch accountability at all.

In fact, it's a part of the ICF Core Competencies that every certified coach learns and practices.

CC #8: Facilitates Client Growth

2. Partners with the client to design goals, actions and accountability measures that integrate and expand new learning
3. Acknowledges and supports client autonomy in the design of goals, actions and methods of accountability


Simply asking your client how they will keep themselves accountable is a great start. They may be inclined to own their own personal responsibility or seek outside assistance. No matter what, listen, explore, and clarify.

Like setting SMART goals, accountability measures should be:

  • Specific

  • Measurable

  • Attainable

  • Relevant

  • Time-bound

A client may also go beyond designing methods to keep themselves on track with their goals and start developing some self-accountability. In fact, that might be their entire goal without even realizing it.

  • A client with a victim mentality may want to stop blaming others for their problem.

  • A perpetual procrastinator might want to stop putting off projects.

  • A client may suffer from too much accountability and needs to reign in their people pleasing habits.

No matter the situation, the process of coaching is also a process of developing personal accountability, of owning your actions and knowing full well you have power, it's only a matter of what you do with it.


CLCI Has Been Nominated!

We want to let you all know that Certified Life Coach Institute is being nominated for the Champion of Women Award! This award is ceremony is hosted by the Connected Women of Influence and the 2021 National Women of Influence Awards,

The Champion of Women Award recognizes a company or organization that provides internal programs and initiatives that are unique, cutting edge and specifically designed to support the advancement and acceleration of women in the workplace.

We would like to invite all of you to support CLCI in our nomination and join us for the virtual award ceremony on November 4th from 11:30am - 1:30pm

To join in the celebration of Women’s Achievements and Accomplishments in Business and support CLCI, register for your virtual seat here.


Thank you,

Lisa Finck, Brooke Adair Walters, Jerome LeDuff Jr., and Anthony Lopez!

Join us every Tuesday at 4 pm PST/7 PM EST for our CLCI Live Facebook Demos.

We now stream from our site! Watch by clicking here

We also now stream live on YouTube! Subscribe to our channel and don't miss out!

Don't miss out on our 3-day life coach classes, it's an education that is beneficial for life, not just for life coaches! Want to learn more click here.

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