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“Accountability” might be the most misunderstood word in real estate. It’s not too surprising. We’re an industry of independent contractor agents and entrepreneurial brokers who chose a career path that doesn’t involve bosses and timecards. Part of what makes this a great profession is having the freedom to run your business like you want to.

In that context, “accountability partner” can sound suspiciously like a micromanaging boss who wants to tell us what to do, and wants to have control of our time and business—and that’s the problem, because that’s not what accountability is at all. Accountability is about caring. It’s about expanding possibilities. It’s about guiding someone toward the goals they’ve set for themselves.

Let’s look at the agent-broker/manager relationship. Accountability starts with a defined objective. Let’s say, for instance, that an agent wants to reach a specific target amount in GCI. That’s his goal.

So, the agent and broker/manager chart the course to get there. After all, reaching a goal doesn’t happen by itself—or by accident. There needs to be a plan—and an expectation that if the agent follows the plan, he will reach his goal.

From here, it can go one of three ways. First, the agent could do everything in the plan and reach his goal without additional support. Second, the agent could start out with great intentions, but get sidetracked by distractions and fall short of his goal. Third, the agent could encounter the same distractions, but have someone holding him accountable and helping him stay focused until the goal is reached.

Reaching your goals is a fundamental sign of success, and a true source of happiness. So, why wouldn’t you want help doing it?

From the broker perspective, do you really want your office filled with agents who are satisfied with falling short of their own goals? What kind of environment does that create?

The best offices have agents who are serious about their goals and embrace the competitive edge that comes with accountability. They want the coaching, the consulting, the mentoring and the support of someone who’s personally invested in their success. It’s part of being a professional.

People fall short for many reasons. They may need to increase their effort, or sharpen their skills, or change their approach or learn new strategies. Or they may just need to focus more on the vital activities they built into their plan in the first place—the vital activities that move them toward their goal.

Accountability addresses all of those possibilities, and many others, but it requires buy-in. Agents need to want the success more than the accountability partner wants it for them.

If someone in your office is reluctant about accountability, it’s worthwhile to ask why: “You said you wanted to achieve this goal. You built a plan to do it. But now you’re falling short of your goal, so let’s work together to figure out why—and to come up with some solutions.”

That’s when the consulting and mentoring come in. When habits take root and results begin to improve, agents start to understand that accountability may actually be about control after all—but not in the way they feared. They start to realize that by being open to accountability, they’ve put themselves in total control of their business, and they push harder.

When they reach their goal, they realize that you—their accountability partner—have become an irreplaceable part of their success story. That’s a value proposition your competitors can’t touch. 

Adam Contos is CEO of RE/MAX, LLC. For more information, please visit www.remax.com.