How many times have you made plans to meet with an employee, only to postpone and postpone as other more urgent issues come up? How often have you put-off having that performance review session? Do you find yourself saying “We need to sit down soon” but it somehow seems to happen?
There are few leadership attributes that more consistently show-up as critical to a person’s success that this one… FOLLOWING THROUGH ON COMMITMENTS.
Commitments are promises, plain and simple. When a leader consistently keeps them, he or she is seen as someone who can be counted on, who truly cares about his people, and who is mastering his priorities. This drives admiration as well as aspiration- your people want to model the same behaviors with their peers and their teams. When a leader doesn’t follow-through, he loses a little credibility each time. People begin to see the leader as unreliable, not caring, or unable to take charge of the day- letting events overtake him.
What can help you keep your commitments?
When someone makes a request requiring your commitment of time, PAUSE before responding. Think about what else is on your plate, and what is realistic. Then either agree to the commitment or make a counter-offer that you are confident you can keep.
Once you’ve made the commitment, SCHEDULE time for it there and then. This sounds so simple, and yet is so often overlooked. We often make vague agreements that are not time-specific. The result: that “by year-end” performance discussion happens long after the ball falls in Times Square… if at all. So plan, plan, plan, and make sure you put it in the calendar.
WATCH OUT for false urgencies that can get in the way. In our 24/7, always connected, meeting-heavy worlds, it’s easy to fall into the trap of letting the latest “urgent” request throw you off your game. Just as you used the PAUSE before making the original commitment, use it again before breaking it. Stop and ask yourself: “Does this new urgent item rank so high in both real urgency and criticality that it MUST push the prior commitment off?” You’ll find that many of these ‘drop everything’ emergencies can actually be delayed or delegated.
Finally, always remember- your people are your greatest asset. If you’re not making time for them, and keeping to it, you’re missing an opportunity to develop and retain them.
By John Benson