Ep. 121 Transcript - Dr. Chelsea Pierotti

Ep. 121 Transcript

[Motivational Intro Music]

Chelsea: Hi, it’s Dr. Chelsea! Welcome to the Passion for Dance podcast where we talk about mindset, motivation, and resilience in dance. Today, I want to tackle one of the biggest issues I hear about all summer: accountability. I hear from teachers and coaches who feel like it’s gotten so much harder to get their dancers to follow through on expectations lately. I hear from dancers, whenever we talk about team values, almost always talk about how much they need more accountability, they need more responsibility, they want more self-discipline on their teams.

So if teachers want more and dancers want more but it’s not happening, how do you teach accountability? Well, I’ve got you covered. Here are six ways you can teach accountability to your dancers.


[Motivational Intro Music]

Welcome to the Passion for Dance podcast. I’m Dr. Chelsea, a former professional dancer and dance team coach turned sport psychologist. This podcast focuses on four main pillars: motivation, resilience, mindset, and community. Each week, you’ll learn actionable strategies, mindsets, and tips to teach your dancers more than good technique. This is a podcast where we can all make a lasting impact and share our passion for dance. Let’s do this!

[Motivational Intro Music]


Accountability Defined – 1:21

First, let’s define accountability because I see it confused with other terms sometimes. I think of being accountable, in our context, as being responsible and answerable. You have to answer for your actions and be responsible for doing what you promised. We are asking dancers to follow through on an expectation that they promised to uphold.

Now, Merriam-Webster defines accountability as an obligation or a willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions. In order to do that, this means there are clear expectations, the dancer has committed to those expectations, and if they don't follow through on their obligation, they own up to it and try to make it right.

I like to explain this to dancers as doing what you said you were gonna do even if no one is watching. Having accountability on a team is like a collected self-discipline. It’s when everyone is doing their part and holding every other dancer to the same expectation.

Six Ways to Teach Accountability – 2:26

So how do you actually teach dancers to be accountable? It’s not just a buzzword. It’s something we truly need to explain and execute the right behaviors day in and day out before it will get better. Teaching accountability is the long game, but you have to start with the right foundation. So here are six ways you can teach it.

One: Establish Team Values and Articulate Behavior Standards – 2:47

Every season, discuss values with your dancers. This can be through the entire studio or something each team determines for themselves or is unique to your high school program. But it has to be discussed. Even better, it should be determined by the group of dancers every year.

Team values naturally fluctuate year to year. It has to be discussed. You can't ask your dancers to be accountable if they don't know what they are accountable for. So, once you have those values, take it a step further. What are the behaviors that go with it? How does that value show up in practice? What does that mean for our team communication or how do we behave at competition? What are the expectations in class?

The first step for accountable dancers is to clearly establish and articulate your values and the standards of behavior for your program.

Two: Document Clear, Agreed-Upon Team Goals – 3:45

Once you have clear values, that’s the guiding light, the North Star, if you will, of where you want to go. Now, you can break it down into clear team goals that everyone is focused on. Not just end-of-season goals either, but goals that will break it down into smaller steps, goals you can track and measure, and goals that will help you see the small progress being made so that everyone gets a boost of motivation and confidence as you keep reaching those goals.

Side note: if you want a little more on goals, you can check out episode 21 about goal setting mistakes and what to do instead.

Three: Describe Individual Roles and Explain Their Contributions to the Team’s Success – 4:24

Research shows us that we work harder for our team when we understand how we contribute, when we feel valued for that contribution. Sometimes a role has a title like assistant coach or senior or veteran. Roles can be informal too, like “the one who always knows the counts,” or “the one who is always positive and supportive when others are struggling.”

The challenge is that most dancers feel like they're just one of many at a studio or one of many on the team. It’s easy to feel lost in a crowd, and why would you worry about your actions if you feel like you don't matter? But if you take the time to talk to athletes about how they contribute to your program or their role on your team, they will understand that their actions matter. They begin to see how they have to show up on time because they are contributing to a program’s success. They see how going over choreography at home before returning to class the next day is important because they are important, and their contribution matters.

If you want dancers to be accountable, they have to understand their role and how they contribute to that group’s success.

Four: Provide Regular Feedback That’s Contingent, Supportive, Positive, and Corrective – 5:37

I’ve talked a lot about feedback before on the podcast as well, but this is an important reminder that athletes need feedback that is supportive and positive but also corrective. They are trying to get better, and just saying, “Good job,” every time isn't actually gonna help them. If you offer corrective feedback and they believe that you believe they're capable of making that improvement, they're more likely to do what’s asked of them.

The other part of feedback is contingent, which means it’s directly related to the athlete’s behavior. It’s directly coming from their actions and what you see in class. They don't get yelled at for no reason, and they don't get praise when they haven't done anything. Feedback is contingent on their actual behaviors. Add into that the feedback is helpful and supportive, and you will create an environment where dancers want to put in the work to hold themselves accountable.

Five: Create Opportunities for Team Members to Share Feedback with Each Other – 6:37

You create accountability when the expectations are the same for everyone, which means feedback is for everyone including coaches, teachers, assistants, leaders, and so on. You can not only make this known in your program, but you can intentionally create opportunities where younger or newer students are encouraged to share feedback with others. Work in pairs, in small groups. Explain the expectations of feedback and encourage it to go in all directions. Make sure you model this behavior as well. Ask for feedback and listen to what they have to say. If you want your dancers to make a commitment and follow through, be sure you do the same thing.

Six: Encourage Team Members to Hold Each Other to the Stated Standards – 7:22

No one is above the team, and that means when they see something, they call it out to each other. They don't hide it from coaches. Accountability takes everyone. It applies to everyone, and it must be followed by everyone. No one is above the rules, and there are certainly times when you, the coach or the teacher, won't know what’s going on behind the scenes. You need other dancers to hold each other to the standards that you’ve talked about.

Say, for example, a new dancer comes offstage and immediately starts a pity party. “I completely messed that part up. I suck. I can't believe I did that.” Well, if that’s not part of your culture, what happens when another dancer says, “Hey, I get it if you're frustrated, but we don't talk like that when we get off the floor. Help us be positive right now, and we’ll all work on it when we get back in the studio.” As soon as one person calls out the behavior, politely but sternly, that new dancer will quickly understand the expectations, and they're more likely to join in the culture you're trying to create.

You can imagine, though, if you have dancers working against you when you aren't around, that can be really hard to overcome, and that’s where the other five steps come in. But once you have that good culture, be sure to encourage team members to hold each other to the standards you expect of them. They have to expect them of each other, too.

Recap – 8:50

Okay, that’s all six, and I understand this is the long game. You aren't gonna create a team of beautifully-accountable dancers overnight or, honestly, maybe even in one season, and I know that can be hard to hear. But keep working on these six strategies, and it will come.

To recap:

  • Establish team values and articulate the standards of behavior
  • Document clear and agreed-upon goals
  • Describe individual roles and explain how everyone contributes to the success of your program
  • Provide regular feedback that’s contingent, supportive, positive, and corrective
  • Create opportunities for team members to share feedback with each other
  • Encourage those team members to hold each other to your established standards

If you have any other questions or even if you just found this helpful, I’d love to hear from you! You can leave a message at www.chelseapierotti.com/message, and let me know your thoughts!

I haven't asked in a while, so I figured I probably should. If you are enjoying this show, will you please go leave a five-star review on Apple Podcasts? This show continues to grow. I’m so proud of this community, and leaving a review helps us reach more like-minded dance educators. I would truly appreciate the help. Thank you, again, and keep sharing your passion for dance with the world!

[Motivational Outro Music] 

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