In the past few months, I’ve seen what a role commitment can play in the success for an organization.
And when I use the term commitment, I mean actions not words. Time and time again, I’ve met people who will espouse an opinion or provide direction only to find out later that they don’t follow their own lead.
Keep in mind I’m not referring to blindly adherence to your ideas. Rather, true commitment comes from application of ideas and philosophy. Leaders have to be in the trenches and be ready to make changes as warranted. This aligns to Sartre’s original philosophy as well as his own actions on commitment and building authentic relationships.
The first such example unfolded over the past two years as the congregational president for a local Reform Jewish temple changed the culture from complacency to commitment. He doubled-down, so to speak, this year when he focused on the need for commitment in actions rather than just words during his high holiday speeches. He directly challenged congregants to act, not just talk about acting.
And it’s working:
- membership and contributions have increased
- participation in committees, programs, and events is burgeoning
- increased pride and connection to the temple is evident in just about every aspect associated with their operation
It’s perhaps that last one on the list which builds a promising, sustainable future for them.
But he’s not the only leader I’ve observed in these past few months who put commitment into action.
I’ve had the opportunity to witness a turnaround of sorts for the Compliance function in an international financial firm.
Simply put, the Chief Compliance Officer changed the culture of the organization by:
- involving a variety of people in planning, goal-setting, and priorities–she included people throughout the organization at a variety of levels and functions along with key internal partners
- setting the tone by actively participating in the changes and monitoring success–she attended each meeting, completed tasks, and led by example
- providing clear feedback including corrective actions and recognizing successes–she did so decisively and quickly
All of these were necessary to turn the organization around. She underscored her commitment not through emails, presentations, and overviews. Rather, she rolled up her sleeves and worked alongside her team to meet the challenges head-on.
It’s working for her and the organization:
- they have launched several new initiatives aligned to international fraud protection guidelines
- governmental oversight ratings have increased for the company
- stock price has stabilized after years of decline
- they successfully opened a new Polish base of operations on-time with less than 3 months planning
So is it all about commitment? Well, yes but there’s another factor that comes into play.
I’m a firm believer that commitment breeds trust. Not only have I witnessed it in these two examples, I’ve seen it repeatedly in businesses and nonprofits–large and small, local and national, service-providers and widget-producers.
Commitment and trust both require action, not just words. Leaders have to not only send messages, they have to live these messages. They become more than role-models. They become participants:
- they do as they say
- “we” is more important to “I”
- challenges are met head-on by all
- they build a solid team
As a leader, look in the mirror. Check to see if your actions match your commitment. Check for the above four items. It’s ok to make adjustments. Better you than someone else.
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