There are some actions that seem small initially, but end up paying great dividends over the long term. For example, 10% of each paycheck might not seem like a lot of money. But, if you make a habit of putting that money aside for the future, it will add up.
There are plenty of small, meaningful steps you can put into action every day. Maybe you set your alarm clock a few minutes earlier, giving yourself extra time to think and strategize. Perhaps you decide to eat vegetables with every meal, or take a walk each afternoon.
These small commitments can add up to huge results. For example, a Harvard Health study found that people who walk only 21 minutes a day reap tremendous benefits. Their risk of heart disease is cut by 30%, and their chances of getting diabetes and cancer are both lowered.
Yet, not everyone makes the commitment to walk for 21 minutes every day. Of those that do, not everyone sticks with it. Despite the huge advantages that result from small, consistent actions, other distractions and obligations get in the way.
Honoring Your Commitments, No Matter the Size
Small habits and behaviors don’t happen on their own — they require intentionality. As a leader, when you set yourself a task, no matter how small that task is, you are creating a commitment.
“Will power is but the unflinching purpose to carry a task you set for yourself to fulfillment. If I set myself a task, be it ever so trifling, I shall see it through. How else shall I have confidence in myself to do important things?” — George E. Clason, The Richest Man in Babylon
When you hold a leadership position, people are always watching. Your team members pay attention to whether or not you follow through on your commitments, and they are always keeping score. When you start to slip, they notice. And, for better or worse, they follow your example.
How to Build a Committed Team
Some leaders believe that, if they say all the right things, their effort will be rewarded. But your team members are less interested in what you say than what you do. When you follow through on your commitments, you’re modeling the behavior you want from your team and increasing the odds they’ll imitate it.
But, that’s not the only step in building a committed team. Consider offering support to your team members by:
- Investing in relationships and working to build trust
- Offering gentle accountability and acknowledging their efforts
- Finding creative ways to motivate and inspire
- Building your knowledge and expertise, so you’re continually increasing the value of your input
- Discovering new ways to build your team members’ capacity
Keeping commitments, even small ones, isn’t easy. That’s why so many people struggle to do it. Teams struggle to do it. As a leader, your job is to get your team members to see their own self-interest within the journey the team is on. People will forgo their personal desires when a team goal is of greater value to them. They’ll put their commitments into action when they truly believe in that goal.
And, when a team is committed, supported, and aligned, they will achieve far greater results than what each member might accomplish alone.
Breaking Your Commitments Well
While following through on commitments is important, you’re not required to keep every commitment you make for all time. Situations change, priorities shift, and new information emerges. If you decide not to follow through with a commitment, do so intentionally. Don’t tiptoe away without addressing the situation.
Explain honestly, to yourself and to your team members, why you are not following through. That way you’re still communicating the importance of transparency, intentionality, and consistency. You’re showing that commitment does matter. You’re also creating a team that says, “We’re in this with you. We’re committed to putting in the daily efforts, because we believe you’re going to get us where we want to go.”
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Author, Speaker, and Change Agent.
Chris leads a dynamic team of passionate change agents who are dedicated to partnering with organizational executives to create cultures that inspire, engage and ignite the best in people. Our work is dedicated to harnessing the power of culture to equip leaders, build amazing teams and align operation practices to delighting the customer and drive breakthrough results.