Commitment: How Far Are You Willing to Go?


Many of you know the story of Spanish explorer Cortes. It is believed that when he landed in Vera Cruz (Mexico) he ordered his men to burn the boats, indicating they had no return, no other options but to settle the new lands they encountered. No buts, no outs, no caveats. Cortes was all in for this new adventure. That is commitment.

In the final session of our multi-session Leadership Development Programs (LDP) with public sector organizations, as we have done with many of you reading this blog, our clients create a series of leadership commitment statements. The intent is to have some standard to hold yourself to, some baseline for corporate leadership behaviors. Like the personal leadership philosophy does at the individual level, these corporate commitment statements can truly establish an organizational baseline for leader behaviors. Many of our clients have done this with awesome results!

Where this document can really add value is when you ask the organization (staff) to hold leaders to this standard. Not only can this start an important conversation, it can truly be a foundation for accountability. Leaders can ask staff if they are holding up their respective end of the bargain. When they are not, that feedback can be shared much more readily (in other words, getting feedback on specific statements is much easier than asking for open feedback…which if we are honest, we know doesn’t happen often…if at all!).

Here is what the Director of the Department who created the commitment statements below shared with me recently (with permission):


We spent a few months as the Management and Executive team developing this document after your program. It was an interesting process to develop – it assisted us in a big way to take our managers’ meetings in a different direction too. At one point the group got stuck on whether we needed feedback from the troops prior to finalizing. My thought was this document tells the troops how we are going to conduct ourselves as their leaders so what would we do if we received feedback that was contrary to what we believed. When we rolled it out at our Leadership Lunch one of the points we all drove home was if you aspire to be a leader in our organization you should start to live these commitments starting today.

Powerful stuff. What baseline have you established for leaders in your organization? How do you ask for and receive feedback to ensure leaders meet their own standard? How might you, as this particular Department did, establish some clear standard for those who aspire to be leaders on your team?

Great stuff and perhaps a good discussion at your initial senior leader meeting this week! Let me know if you’d like to know more about this process, and the programs that we lead to help bring these sorts of mature leadership conversations to the table!

Take a stand. Be accountable. Like Cortes, don’t give yourself, or your leaders, an out. Be all in, fully committed, in a way that leaves no room for interpretation. That is…Leader Business!

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