AS A LEADER, following through on verbal commitments is critical for building trust and credibility with your team and stakeholders. Conversely, when leaders make promises and fail to deliver, it can damage their reputation and undermine their ability to lead effectively.
Here are some reasons why following through on commitments is important:
Demonstrates accountability: Leaders who follow through on their commitments show they are accountable and take their responsibilities seriously. Team members and stakeholders are more likely to respect and trust leaders who are dependable.
Enhances reputation: Leaders who consistently follow through on their commitments are viewed as trustworthy, reliable, and dependable. This helps to enhance their reputation, both within the organization and in the wider community, making it easier for them to achieve their goals and get the support they need to succeed.
Increases team morale: When team members see leaders following through on their commitments, it can increase their motivation and morale because they feel feel valued and respected, knowing that their efforts are being recognized and rewarded.
Fosters collaboration: Leaders who follow through on their commitments set an example for their team and help to foster collaboration. Team members are more likely to work together effectively when they trust and respect their leader.
Supports goal achievement: Following through on commitments is key to achieving goals, both individually and as a team. Leaders who consistently deliver on their promises demonstrate their commitment to success and inspire their teams to do the same.
Promotes growth: Leaders who follow through on their commitments help to create a culture of trust, accountability, and growth. When team members see that their leader is taking their commitments seriously, they are more likely to take on new challenges and responsibilities, and to grow both personally and professionally.
3 Ways to Ensure Follow Through
Consider these steps to make it easier to follow through:
1. Be careful about your commitments. We often fail to follow through because our commitments are beyond our capabilities. Before saying “yes” to something, first consider what it will take to fulfill that commitment.
2. Write it down so you don’t forget. If you struggle with remembering things, technology can provide you with multiple ways to keep track of your commitments. Scheduling the task on your calendar is a helpful way to remind you of meetings, project deadlines, certain milestones of your business, or even personal life commitments. If you are overtasked and frequently overbooked, use a productivity app to manage your commitments. Or you can simply use Post-it Notes to remind you of your deadlines.
3. Most important, renegotiate the deadline if you feel you’ll need more time. You must do this prior to the agreed-upon deadline. For example, if you promise a prospect that you will meet them at noon, but you leave at 11:45 a.m. for what is a 30-minute drive, call them to let them know you will be late. It is your responsibility to “renegotiate” the time and ask if that is alright with them.
The importance of follow-through can never be emphasized enough. If you don’t follow-through on your words, people will soon stop caring about what you have to say. For leaders, this behavior can translate into utter disappointment for their employees and subsequent disengagement.
Living up to your commitments is something people will notice immediately about you. If you mean what you say and do what you commit to doing, you will earn people’s trust and respect. That is what leaders do. Leaders who consistently deliver on their promises inspire their team to do the same, and help to create a culture of trust, accountability, and growth.
JAMES KERNAN serves as a principal consultant for Kernan Consulting and provides coaching, advising, and mentoring programs to IT business owners and leaders. The company offers one-on-one coaching, peer groups, and training.