Keep Commitments and Credibility Intact
Commitments are sacred. And the bigger the commitments, the more sacred they seem to be. Case in point, if there’s anything we know about Jeff Bezos’ recent promise to pump billions of dollars into fighting climate change, it’s that people worldwide are watching his moves, wondering if and how Amazon’s CEO will honor his word. In particular, it’s some of his very own employees who, critical of the global online retailer’s environmental record, are eager for Bezos to follow through and learn whether his proposed strategies will have a positive impact.
At MAP, we regularly coach our clients on the importance of honoring commitments. Like a number of other vital leadership traits, honoring commitments is a high-impact activity that can make or break leadership credibility. Truly Disciplined Leaders, those who promise only what they can do and do what they promise, build entire reputations, even legacies, around being known as people who honor their commitments. On the other hand, when leaders in this discipline, they lose the esteem of their employees (and even the public, in the case of many organizations), and both morale and productivity suffer.
We know follow-through with commitments can be tough, particularly if you’re a leader who is stretched thin, struggling with priorities, and always wanting to say “yes” to keep motivation alive within your culture. But as honoring commitments is a leadership priority, listed below are several ways to established and sustain credibility around commitments you make:
Define and communicate vital commitments to your team. Write them down, clearly define what they mean, and assign timelines/deadlines for the follow-through. Use an accountability system to set goals and create strategies around your commitments. Also bring in time-management tools for reminders to take action around these promises as well as to communicate progress, letting people know when you’ve followed through. If you’re struggling, be honest with yourself and others who may need to know about it, and then take corrective action.
Don’t say “yes” because you don’t know how to say “no.” Call upon your courage and get some coaching around your communication skills if necessary. That said, don’t be afraid to say “no” (at least for now) if you don’t know how to do something. No one says you have to have all the answers, and your team members might already have ideas of their own and, together, you can problem-solve and eventually get to a place where together you can confidently say “yes” to a commitment, which brings us to…
Ask for the help you need. If you commit to something, then find you’re struggling or falling short on that promise, reach out for help, whether from your people, your MAP consultant, or other resources, such as a trusted confidant or mentor who can give objective feedback. Failing to get the help you need could put your organization and leadership in an even riskier situation and, over time, cost you more in terms of broken commitments and lost leadership credibility.
In regard to a commitment you’ve made, how have successfully asked for help— and received it?