When “what you say” doesn’t matter

Shawnee Love   •  
October 6, 2011

Do or do not, there is no try~ Yoda

I love that quote because it speaks to a key quality of leadership, i.e., that leaders should do what they say they will.  Under promise and over deliver is a wonderful way to accomplish that outcome, but at the end of the day, it all boils back to doing or not. Nothing else matters.

How I wish more managers/ leaders/ owners understood that concept.  Many say they do, but not well enough to change their behaviour by delivering on their commitments.

People all have different degrees of tolerance for broken promises:

  1. Some give you one shot and then walk away.
  2. For others three strikes and you are out.
  3. In some, hope springs eternal and they keep giving chances and chances as their trust and faith drains slowly away. Eventually they may get the nerve to walk too.
  4. A small group will stay around, gripe, warn and remember each and every promise ever broken.

Broken promises lead to broken companies because the best employees leave and those who stay are not top performers, either because their morale and motivation is too low or they can’t find jobs anywhere else.

Trust is built over time, but can be erased with a word, action or inaction.  If you are responsible for people, consider what promises you are delivering on, and which ones you aren’t.  If you aren’t delivering, I respectfully suggest you stop making commitments.

People are happier if you don’t promise anything, than if you make all kinds of promises that never come true.