Leadership is creating an environment in which people want to be part of the organization and not just work for the organization. Leadership creates an environment that makes people want to, rather than have to, do. It is a business imperative to create that environment. I am obligated to create an environment where people feel part of something, feel fulfilled, and have purpose. It is purpose – it is getting the maximum from them, and are giving the maximum to the person. Anything less is irresponsible to the organization and demands more handling by the individual.
When you see people only as fulfilling a function, you’re treating them like a think, like the chair you’re sitting on. I don’t think we as humans can assume the right to do that. None of us want to be just something standing in a corner. We found the greatest satisfaction for an employee is to feel part of something and to feel trusted to make decisions and to contribute.
Vision on a personal scale translates into path finding in an organizational setting. Whereas individually you identify what you see to be significant, now your challenge and role is to create a shared view of what is important, of what matters most. Consider for a moment the following questions you might ask about your employees:
1. Do people clearly understand the organizational goals?
2. Are they committed?
Helping people clearly understand and get committed to significant goals requires you to involve them in decision making. Together you determine the destination of the organization (vision and mission). Then everybody in the organization will have ownership in the path that leads to the destination (values and strategic plan).
In determining together what is most important to an organization or team, you need to come to grips with the realities you face. Once you understand them, you work until a shared vision and value system are embodied in some kind of mission statement and strategic plan.
Before you can gain commitment from others you need to demonstrate self-discipline. Self-discipline is an essential quality of an authentic leader. Without it, you cannot gain the respect of your followers. It is easy to say that someone has good values but lacks the discipline to convert those values into consistent actions. This is a hollow excuse. None of us is perfect, of course, but authentic leadership must have the self discipline to do everything they can to demonstrate their values through their actions. When we fall short, it is equally important to admit our mistakes.
Leaders who are open with people, even when sharing bad news or offering critical feedback, establish that sense of connection that builds commitment. Trust is built and sustained in the depths of these relationships, and commitment is strengthened so that any obstacle can be overcome. When pressures mount, relationships build on connectedness actually grow.
Leaders are always being examined under the microscope. Their behaviors are observed, discussed, and dissected by their employees as well as by a myriad of outsiders. To be authentic, leaders must behave with consistency and self discipline, not letting stress get in the way of their judgment. They must learn to handle any kind of pressure and stay cool and calm. Handling unexpected challenges requires being in peak condition. They need consistent habits to keep their minds sharp and their bodies in shape.
A number of vital keys are important in gaining commitment. Here are five valuable points.
1. Gaining commitment from others is no longer considered a right or obligation. As many leaders painfully learn, you can’t buy commitment from others no matter how much you pay them. Commitment is a building process and it is earned by a leader who appreciates and values it!
2. The enemy of commitment is silence and exclusiveness demonstrated by the leader. Building commitment means open and honest communication. A wise leader understands that most individuals have a natural resistance to change and are suspicious of any idea or concept forced upon them. Commitment is enhanced when the need for change is clearly and patiently expressed and when the followers’ input is respected as part of the entire change process.
3. A friend of commitment is involvement. People feel a greater sense of commitment when they are involved in the decision-making process. Many leaders fear this because they are afraid that others may offer other options or challenge their own thinking. Experienced leaders don’t fear seeking the involvement of followers because they understand the deepened level of commitment far outweighs the potential of a compromised decision. They know that even the most sound and brilliant decision will fail without the commitment of others.
4. Ask for the commitment of others. This can be done by vividly articulating a clear vision, and personally requesting their solid commitment. Don’t take the support of other workers for granted! Let them know how important they are and how vital their commitment is to achieve success. Often times a personal plea will make a big difference in gaining the deep commitment of others.
5. Set an individual example by demonstrating your own level of commitment. Show others that you are willing to do what you ask of them. Commitment is easily eroded by leaders who think they are “above” and beyond” the tasks expected of others. In contrast, leaders who will roll up their sleeves and occasionally share some lower tasks with others win the respect and admiration of followers. By doing this you state to the follower that you value what they do and appreciate their valuable contribution to the organization.
In conclusion, commitment and involving others in the entire decision-making environment is a modern bond. Use open and honest communication to express the need and reasons for change. Deeply involve the followers to help determine how the change should occur. In exchange for their inclusion, ask for commitment as their promise of dedication and support.
Commitment is founded on trust, respect and a common vision.