Episode 7 – Commitment

Welcome to episode 7 of the ELC podcast.  I am your host and intentional leader, Rob Fisher, coming to you from the AEROhp.com Studios in the FIT Center for Excellence, here in Concord, NC!
In the last episode, we described the Fifth attribute of the ELC – Diversity, and Inclusion.  I hope listeners immediately used some of the recommendations at the end of the podcast to start making changes in their intentional leadership. By now, you should have downloaded the E-Colors app and are using that information to manage your strengths and potential limiters in your day-to-day interactions. In this episode, I am going to discuss the next attribute of the essential leadership cycle – Commitment.  
Commitment is a very personal thing. Many organizations and leaders don’t understand or acknowledge the systemic attributes that help encourage commitment in the individuals in the organization. Commitment, like trust, is a developed attribute. Good self and team awareness, established and verified shared vision and values, and clear roles and processes tend to establish individual trust in a way that then leads people to commit in their own way. But they wi only tend to commit to the limit that they TRUST you or the organization, and there are typically two different kinds of trust that feed commitment: competency trust and relational trust. People who tend to be more independent and more task-oriented, tend to strive for Competency trust – they trust that you have the skills to do your job or task and that you will do what you say you will do and follow processes. People who tend to be more interdependent and more people-oriented tend to strive for Relational Trust – they trust you enough to speak their minds and voice their opinions without fear of retribution.  They trust that your goals and visions are aligned. Each of these different personalities will tend to commit based on their type of trust.
Teams rarely achieve 100% consensus as team members have different viewpoints. However, 100% Commitment is achievable if all team members have had an opportunity to voice their opinions and have been included. Where 100% consensus is not achievable, it is the responsibility of the leader to make the decision and then explain the rationale to the team members, seeking their commitment to move forward. Teams tend to be more successful related to the commitment of the members when there is a trusted decision-making process in place that is followed, especially when there is a conflict of opinion.  INCLUDING people in the process to get their DIVERSE input tends to breed better individual commitment when using the decision-making process. So you may have noticed that as we progress through the ess4ntial leadership cycle, each time we have a new element, it relies on the previous elements being established to make it more successful. That’s why the cycle works so well to focus leaders on what they need to do, how they need to do it, and why it needs to be done that way. For a long time in Human and organizational performance; and there is still some of this today, the leaders didn’t have any specific models or tools that they could commit to, to get the outcomes they wanted.  HOP was treated as a field error-reduction thing, instead of a way of enabling the entire organization, to manage the challenges that impact sustainable, reliable, and resilient performance. People will tend to commit to things that meet their personal needs, including their knowledge needs. Some personalities need to know the WHAT, some need to understand the HOW, some are more WHO-oriented, and others need to know WHY before they can commit to something. Taking individuals’ e-colors or personalities into account during the preparation and development phase of a team or project tends to drive both commitment and the discretionary effort that typically accompanies it. Meeting these needs tends to make individuals realize their inclusion. My wife and I love to travel. We especially like Maui and have been there many times. One of the things we had never done, that was on my bucket list, is to do the bike ride down Haleakala – the volcano on the island. On one trip, I declared well in advance that this was the year we (note how I included her!) were going to so the ride. I talked about how excited I was for us to do it.
We get to the island, and I had noticed that she didn’t seem as excited about the trip as I was, but especially related to our planned bike ride. You see, I was asking her to commit to something I wanted to do, and I thought would be fun, but I hadn’t included her in the process for planning the ride.  I asked her about why she wasn’t excited, and she told me that she was just apprehensive about it, and didn’t know why. So I proposed a change into the trip. I said, let’s DRIVE up the volcano first to the state park, then we decide if the bike ride is something we want to do together. I fully expected that we would do the car trip and see all of the families riding down the mountain and then go back the next day with her more comfortable with the process and the fun bike ride… was I ever wrong! Now the road up Haleakala is a bunch of hairpin turns that wind up the mountainside. It is a beautiful ride. When we got to the first set of switchback turns, we saw a family riding with the mom in front, the three kids behind her, and the dad taking up the back of the pack. The mom’s hair was blowing back and the look on her face was one of sheer terror, the kids looked concentrated but a bit scared on this narrow road, and the dad was smiling from ear to ear. I immediately pulled over at the next turnout – looked at my wife and said: “We aren’t doing that ride. I saw the wife and kids face, and I don’t even think the dad knew what they were going through, but I won’t put you through that, and I don’t want to do it either.” I don’t know in our over 40 years being together if I have ever seen a feeling of relief sweep over my wife. She had been harboring a fear of the bike ride for MONTHS but didn’t want to spoil my excitement for doing it. We had a great day, and that was a great trip. On the way home, I asked her how the trip was for her, and she said BEST VACATION EVER! I know we have been on some good ones, but I asked what made the best ever? Her answer… No surprises. In other words, by including her in the discussions about what we would do, and when we could do it, she could really COMMIT to those things and to being able to have fun doing them. She didn’t have to worry if I was going to ask her to do something that she didn’t have the time to process, which is one of her personality needs.
So what can you do? Take people’s personality needs into account when you are trying to get them to commit to something. And if you don’t know what someone’s e-colors are – ensure you put the WHO, WHAT, HOW, WHY and WHEN into the conversation. Sometimes rather than TELLING them, have an engaged discussion about these attributes that will then lead to a stronger commitment to the team, project, or process. It is hard to expect commitment from your team if the other essentials are not present. For example, if there is a lack of self and team awareness, a lack of shared vision and values, a lack of clarity around roles and processes, a lack of trust, and a lack of diversity and inclusion, it is hard to gain commitment from the team. Make sure you as a leader focus on the driving elements to get the result of a commitment from your team and individuals. Until next time…this has been your host, Rob Fisher. Thanks for listening, and, remember Intentional Leadership starts with YOU!
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