Commitment: Carrots and Sticks Not Required


So it happens three weeks in a row. You tell your team to submit their weekly report to you by Friday at 5pm and it doesn’t happen.  So, you tell them each again, send an email with the due date, set up automatic calendar reminders, and even go so far as to offer a gift card to the first one on the team to turn in their report.  Convinced that your efforts will lead you to success, you impatiently wait until next Friday- excited to read the reports and announce who wins the gift card challenge!   Except next Friday comes, and still no reports.  What now?

This is the moment where you have a choice as a leader.

You can choose to continue seeking compliance from your team or you can seek something else.  Something far more powerful than deadlines, due dates, policies, procedures, and even gift cards. You can seek commitment. Commitment is what great leaders build with their teams. Committed teams rarely need deadlines or threats, and while they still may love a good gift card, it isn’t what drives them to turn in that report. Committed employees are driven by strong leaders who understand the difference between authority and accountability, leaders who choose teaching versus doing for, and who ask questions rather than directing tasks. True commitment is built by leaders who understand the process people go through to change and who allow time for people to experience true growth and learning as their behavior shifts.

While the report itself is just a symbol or symptom of the bigger problem, it is often missed deadlines and frustrations with poor work performance that make leaders first ask themselves the tough question….”what am I doing (or not doing) to cause my team to under perform?” Asking yourself this question is a great first start in discovering what type of leader you want to become.  Then, and only then, can you begin to take steps to be the leader you want to be.  Learning how to more effectively coach your team, how to create a culture of accountability and vision toward common goals, and how to engage individuals will help propel your team towards commitment.  They will make mistakes along the way, it will not be easy, and reports will likely still get missed.  The difference will be the level of accountability and engagement on the team that will drive success to still occur and overall goals to be met, despite natural bumps in the road.

So, all this sounds great, but you still have tasks that are now overdue and your boss is asking why your staff is not completing their weekly reports.  You can write up your team and threaten to fire them next time a report is missed, or you can learn new skills to engage your team and work to re-align and commit the teams goals to the greater picture. The choice is yours. What kind of leader do you want to be?

Leading Through Influence

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