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Demonstrate Integrity: Deliver on Promises

Taking Commitments Seriously Pays Off Making and keeping commitments is key to a thriving personal life and business. A shortfall here guarantees a disappointing future for both sides of the relationships, whether business or personal. Reliable promises develop the confidence that enables customers to buy, employees to engage, shareholders to invest, and the public to trust. Unfortunately, leaders frequently make haphazard decisions they haven’t truly considered, they don’t actually know the likelihood they can deliver on what they promised. A sure way to generate momentum is to make and keep considered decisionsWhen leaders pay more attention to commitments, they generate momentum. The dictionary says that a promise is “a declaration that one will do or refrain from doing something specified; a legally binding declaration that gives the person to whom it is make the right to expect or to claim the performance or forbearance of a specified act.” You can make that happen. You can develop this element of character. Think before you speak. This is harder to do than it seems, but simply slowly down to consider what you say before you speak it will save you much consternation. Actually consider reality along with your hopes. Acknowledge your commitment. Before you make the promise finish a report for next week, make sure you have the time and skills to follow through on the promise. To do this, you should listen to the request and consider:

  • Do I understand what I am promising to do?

  • Can I fulfill the promise within the specified time? Do I have other duties or plans that will interfere? Make sure you can commit the time needed to fulfill the promise.

  • What do I need to fulfill the promise and can I access these needs/skills? Analyze your existing skills and determine if they are a match for the request or commitment. Make sure you have the resources and the skillset to make it reality.

Think about the person to whom you are making a promise. If someone is in a vulnerable or hurt condition, then think very carefully about any promises you make. In stressful situations, people, desperate for help, tend to take a promise to heart, and will gain hope from it. Breaking a promise under these conditions might exacerbate the situation. Consider the people of the promises. Be very honest as you consider what you can and can’t do. Sometimes we promise somebody something because we wish to help – not because we actually can. Think about this very, very carefully. Take your promises seriously. When you make a promise, think about it. Consider what you can do, how you can fulfill it, and the impact it will have on people. The outcome of your promises will affect people’s lives, and their opinion of you. Make an effort. You said you would help them team complete a report on Saturday morning. But when you woke up, the day was perfect for boating. You just didn’t want to do it. That is exactly the thing that will demoralize your team and undercut any opportunity for future effective leadership. If you said it, do it. There will always be attractive alternatives in the moment to keeping your commitment, but they don’t yield the results you need. You can’t ask for commitment from others unless you are a commitment maker and keeper yourself. For most of us, it is a good plan to make fewer, better commitments. Don’t make a promise a minute. Carefully consider the true needs and goals, and make promises you are sure have the best chance of getting you there. When you take the time to consider the big picture, you can more effectively make and keep meaningful commitments.

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