Posts Tagged ‘commitment’
This is a post from Guy Harris, who draws on more than 25 years of combined professional and military experience when he consults, coaches and trains in the areas of team and interaction dynamics, communication strategies and tactics, and emotional intelligence.
Whether you are trying to resolve a conflict, coach an employee, or correct your child’s behavior; you have to wrestle with your real goals. You have to ask yourself, “Do I want compliance or commitment?”
Many people might say, “As long as they do what I asked them to do, I don’t really care whether people are compliant or committed.”
I would say that if you want one-time action and results in a situation where you do not have to continue working or living with the other person, then compliance is fine. After all, in a one-time event, you don’t really care about the long-term impact on the relationship.
If, however, you are in a relationship with someone, either personally or professionally, I would say that compliance is a bad goal.
In Why We Do What We Do, Edward Deci argues that compliance is really silent retaliation. I agree.
Deci’s comments remind me of the story of a young boy who insisted on standing up in class. After the teacher spoke with his mother, his mother made it clear that he would experience severely negative consequences if he got in trouble with his teacher again on this issue. The next day, as he sat in his seat, his teacher said something to him about how nicely he was sitting. He replied, “I’m sitting on the outside, but I’m standing on the inside!”
With compliance, we can get apparent cooperation and bare minimum performance while we are with people. With commitment, we get cooperation even when we are not present, and we create the possibility that the other person will work with extra, discretionary effort to get even better results.
The issue of striving for commitment over compliance is one that I sometimes struggle with as I work with others, and I believe that in most cases making the effort to connect and communicate in respectful ways to build commitment is far better than applying strong negative consequences with the hope of gaining compliance.
What tips do you have for getting true commitment from your staff?
Recently, I was catching a flight to do some culture change work with a client in Philadelphia when it seemed like everything that could go wrong, did. When I arrived at the airport the flight had been canceled and the only remaining flight for the evening was already full. I was then booked on a flight that connected in Dulles but that flight was delayed and I was clearly going to miss my connection. The fun continued with a series of bookings and re-bookings that ended with me catching a flight to Baltimore, instead of Philadelphia, and driving another two hours to my destination, arriving there at 3 AM.
Anyone who’s ever been through this kind of travel experience knows the frustration that can mount as you talk to person after person who you hope can help you and yet feel like you are making no progress, or that things are even getting worse. And yet, in this situation, by the time it ended, I was laughing and kidding with one of the gate agents and perfectly happy to make my drive in the wee morning hours. The reason I wasn’t frustrated or upset reminded me of a choice that every one of has but that we often fail to use.
See, as I was running from gate to gate, being further delayed and less optimistic about my changes of getting to Philly by morning, a child, running through the airport laughing, caught my eye. As I looked closer, I realized that the child, who I’m guessing was about two or three years old, had no arms. As I watched him, he ran to his father and was lifted into the air giggling by a man who obviously, as I noticed they were different races, had adopted or was fostering the boy. As I looked closer at the couple, it was clear that they had three children with them, all challenged in some way and all not biologically theirs. They had made a choice to make a difference for these kids. And clearly, each of these kids had challenges far greater and far more permanent than me losing a little sleep that night.
In that moment, my flight delays seemed so minor and trivial that I ceased to care about them. It occurred to me that I could have made that choice even without the catalyst of seeing the boy and the family. And next time I am frustrated or angry at some set of circumstances that aren’t fair or convenient I could make the choice to think about the boy, see that image again in my mind, and once again transform my attitude, my outlook and my actions.
Leadership is about making those kinds of choices as much as it is about anything else. First we have to make the choice to even head down that path of becoming a leader, where we keep score based on helping others accomplish more for themselves. Where we create new opportunities for others through helping them realize their potential or even change an organizational culture so growth and sustainable success are available for everyone. Then we have to make the choice to lead ourselves in a way that helps us become someone who can make those things happen for people, for businesses and even for communities.
Those parents made those kinds of choices and they, along with their kids, led me to a different place right there in the airport. More importantly, they helped remind me that I have the ability to lead myself anytime I choose to. They will never even know they helped me think differently. They won’t get any recognition or pats on the back for doing it and they had to make some really hard decisions that put them in a position where they made my life better, simply because I observed theirs for a moment.
Every time we are faced with a choice, we get the opportunity to lead. We may not know who’s watching, where the choice will lead us or how we will accomplish the things that lie in front of us because of it. But in that moment, we know which choice a leader would make. And we have the power to make that same one.
Leadership doesn’t always come in a speech or a grand event. Sometimes it happens in a small moment, with no real rewards, in an airport.
Today's featured blogger is Randy Hall. Randy is the founder and principal of 4th Gear Consulting. He is passionate about developing amazing leaders and thriving, principled organizations. He believes that nothing will have greater impact on our economy, our communities, our lives and our kids’ lives. Check out his blog, or connect with Randy on Twitter, on his Facebook page, or LinkedIn.