Let's get real for a moment...commitment is one of those words that get's too easily applied these days as the fixall for leadership. "We just need people that are committed!" is the common lament. As with empowerment, suddenly it becomes the cure all for an organization's issues when the deeper root causes continue to fester. The truth is commitment is not nearly as easy as we hope it would be.On the surface the reasons are many. Following are three reasons I observe most why leaders or their teams fail to commit:
- Uncertainty over the goal - Most goals are not thoroughly examined. They are chosen often because they look good to others, or appeal to a certain constituency however lack the gut level connection that is required to achieve it.
- Boredom with the routine - The blue-fish-underbelly of commitment is it requires a multitude of small actions rather than one big one. Culturally, American businesses are great starters but really suck at finishing, simply because we don't have the discipline to stick to the routine.
- Constrained by the choice - An unwritten implication of commitment is that to say yes to something and be successful with it means we have to say no to many other things. We aren't good at saying no. Just listen to the marketing message we hear from every angle these days, fifty million ways to say yes, just don't say no. Committing to everything is committing to nothing.
- Make a choice. Period. The reality is even a bad choice is infinitely more valuable than a great one that is never made.
- Stick to it until a) it is painfully obvious, not only to you but your team that it is the wrong course of action, or b) until you reach your objective. If a), go to step 3.
- Be willing to admit you don't always get it right. Listen to the team around you (assuming you have people willing to tell you what you don't like to hear. If you don't, then you have bigger issues than lack of commitment and we need to have a conversation...)
- Change course, recommit.