Successful Leaders Understand the Power of Commitments

Performance is like pushing a rope apart from shared commitments.

Managers often ask, “How can I get people to do what I want them to do?” The answer is people do what THEY want to do. Invite commitment.


Commitments require common values, mutual responsibility, and shared benefits.

A commitment is a decision made once.

Commitments require faithfulness. When you commit, you obligate yourself to bring energy and resources in fulfillment of your commitment.

Commitments limit options. When you commit, to your spouse you ruled out all other options. When you commit to improvement, for example, drifting is ruled out.

Reluctance to commit is natural and healthy.

A commitment is a form of self-control. It’s not a committed relationship if faithfulness is fear of getting caught. Carrots or sticks are secondary.


Commitments are voluntary.

Coercion creates conformity, not commitment. Coercion depends on fear.

Forced conformity isn’t commitment.

People commit for their reasons, not yours.

Commitments are given, not demanded.


Commitments require consequence and reward. When you don’t pay your mortgage, the bank takes your home. (Consequence)

You made a voluntary commitment to pay for your home.

When you fulfill, your commitment you own your home. (Benefit)

10 requirements of commitment:

  1. Unselfish leadership.
  2. Mutual involvement. Coercion means the one in control is one-up and the one being controlled is one-down. Commitments are two-sided affairs.
  3. Shared information. Everyone who commits is an insider. Secrets weaken commitments.
  4. Transparent conversations that build strong connection. Personal knowledge enables people to make commitments.
  5. Shared values.
  6. Shared results, benefits and consequences.
  7. Drive for improvement from all levels. Managers don’t pressure employees to improve when commitments are shared. Commitment means reaching high, not just getting by.
  8. Shared purpose.
  9. Minimum hierarchy.
  10. Front-line input and decision-making.

Lasting success requires commitment, not coercion.

How might leaders establish shared commitments?