THE REALITY OF COMMITMENT
Todd Dewett | August 9, 2021
I used to say that leading was about moving employees past mere compliance towards real commitment. Compliance is about doing the minimum, whereas commitment is a feeling of dedication that drives strong engagement.
This is a useful idea, but I’ve come to realize it’s not complete.
All employees will become committed. The only question is to what do they become committed? With the right leadership, they will be committed to their personal development, strong role performance, the success of their colleagues, and more.
However, in the absence of quality leadership, employees will become committed to themselves without supporting their colleagues, committed to minimal performance, and committed to apathy or even negativity.
The race to create a positive form of commitment begins on day one. Once you allow one of the less productive or negative versions of commitment to take hold, they grow like a cancer.
Okay, so how does one create the right kind of commitment? Surely there are volumes that can be said in response to this question. However, how about this for a decent summary?
First, nail the basics. That means clear goals and expectations, consistent and fair accountability, and transparent and collaborative decision-making with the team.
Next, model the way by walking the talk. Espouse good rules, values, and standards – and then follow them! What they see you do is typically more powerful than the things you espouse. When it’s time to work early, late, or on weekends – you must clock more hours than anyone else.
Put the team above self. When someone is upset with a member of your team, stand up for them. Mistakes happen, okay, but handle them internally. Be thoughtful in creating developmental activities to feed their growth. When you face cuts or resource challenges, you share the pain as much or more than the team.
Manage the team’s emotional intelligence. Recognize and appreciate the positive healthy emotions you see. Create positivity yourself using kindness, fun, and humor. Identify unproductive negativity and talk about it. Some negativity can be useful in the form of needed tough feedback, but even that can be delivered with compassion.
With leadership behaviors like these, you’re on your way to becoming a destination team. That’s a place where people show up for more than just a paycheck – because they’re committed.
WHAT’S UP WITH DR. D?
· I’m almost done writing the scripts for one of my new courses, Creating Personal Success. The latest chapter is about the need for a support team. I don’t care how awesome you are, remember, success is a team sport. You want to surround yourself with people who can provide insight, help you stay positive, and who can help with personal accountability. It’s a fun chapter in what I know will be a terribly useful course. Stay tuned.
· I’m writing this in the air, on route to a speaking event in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The client is American LandMaster, one of the world’s top manufacturers of all-terrain vehicles. Big dealer meeting. I’m delivering the killer keynote (a version of Show Your Ink). I’m vaxxed and masked and ready to get on stage!
I’ve spent time with my grandkids recently. They are fascinating little creatures. Dealing with kids is very different than leading a team or successfully supporting your colleagues, but there are a few high-level similarities.
Kids just want love and attention. They love to say, “Look what I can do!” Same for employees. In between the big milestones and huge wins are a million smaller tasks. Go spend time with them and give them a chance to show you what they are up to. Show interest and find a way to affirm their efforts.
Kids want to explore. They like to try things and experiment. Same with employees. However, they need space to work. Back up and try giving more autonomy. When they feel ownership of their work, they are far more likely to feel comfortable taking risks and exploring new ways to improve how the team operates.
Kids want to understand. They ask, “Why?” – a million times per day! Same for the team. They see things at work: people they don’t know, decisions that are made, changes that are rolled out – and they want to know why! Make inclusion and transparency the norm so employees don’t make unproductive assumptions.
Until next time – stay safe, go learn something, maybe help someone, or at least do something interesting!
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