A leader who is only marginally effective will get compliance from his or her team (in contrast to an effective leader, who will get commitment). But a workforce filled with people who are compliant will only produce mediocre results. When someone is compliant, they simply obey – doing what’s asked of them but no more. Typically, they’re doing just enough to keep their job.
On the other hand, if the goal is to achieve excellent results, a committed workforce is required. Someone who is committed will spend time and effort outside of normal business hours thinking about work and solving problems, finding better ways to get the job done, seeking out new insights, and then acting on them.
How does a leader create a committed team?
There are generally two drivers of commitment.
The first driver relates to trust and respect. A motivated, committed person will soon become unhappy if their boss is someone they don’t trust and respect. Trust is earned or lost depending on a leader’s integrity. I’m not talking about honesty (although being an honest person is absolutely essential), but rather about a leader doing what they say they will do and being the kind of person they say they are. Mistrust grows when a leader doesn’t follow through on commitments. Trust grows when they do follow through. Mistrust grows when a leader claims to embrace certain values but acts in a manner at odds with them. And trust grows as a leader consistently acts in alignment with the values he or she says matter to them.
Respect is earned by showing respect for others. A leader demonstrates they respect people when they listen to their ideas and interact with them in a respectful manner. Of course, a leader can’t claim trust and respect from others. Trust and respect have to be earned, which takes consistency of word and action over time.
The second driver of commitment involves the initiatives undertaken by the company, the department, or the team. An initiative without a reason is simply a goal, and goals by themselves are cold, unemotional targets, lacking any purpose other than to make the person who set the goal look good. If an initiative is to drive commitment, there needs to be a “why” to go along with the goal. People become engaged and committed when they believe in what they’re doing and feel they are making a difference.
Not only does a leader need to develop initiatives that matter, but he or she must gain buy-in for those initiatives by effectively communicating why they matter. In order to do this, a leader must learn to be influential and persuasive.
If you want a committed workforce, a leader must hone his or her leadership skills, strategic thinking, and influence abilities. If you’d like our help with this, please give us a call. We specialize in developing leaders, and can help your organization reach its full potential.