People do not follow uncommitted leaders. Commitment can be displayed in a full range of matters to include the work hours you choose to maintain, how you work to improve your abilities, or what you do for your fellow workers at personal sacrifice. - Stephen Gregg, Chairman and CEO of Ethix Corp.
The world has never seen a great leader who lacked commitment. Ed McElroy of USAir spoke of its importance: "Commitment gives us new power. No matter what comes to us - sickness, poverty, or disaster - we never turn our eyes from our goal."
What is commitment? To each person, it means something different:
- To the boxer, it is getting off the mat one time more than you've been knocked down.
- To the marathoner, it is running another ten miles when your strength is gone.
- To the soldier, it is going over the hill, not knowing what is waiting on the other side.
- To the missionary, it is saying good-bye to your own comfort to make life better for others
- To the leader, it is all that and more because everyone you lead is depending on you.
If you want to be an effective leader, you have to be committed. True commitment inspires and attracts people. It shows them that you have conviction. They will believe in you only if you believe in your cause. As the Law of Buy-In states, people buy into the leader, then the vision.
What is the true nature of commitment?
- Commitment Starts in the Heart - Some people want everything to be perfect before they are wiling to commit themselves to anything, but commitment always precedes achievement. NBA legend Michael Jordan explains that "heart is what separates the good from the great." If you want to make a difference in other people's lives as a leader, look into your heart to see if you are really committed.
- Commitment Is Tested by Action - It is one thing to talk about commitment. It is another to do something about it. The only real measure of commitment is action. Arthur Gordon acknowledged, "Nothing is easier than saying words. Nothing is harder than living them day after day." How are you doing when it comes to following through on your commitments?
- Commitment Opens the Door to Achievement - As a leader, you will face plenty of obstacles and opposition - if you do not already. And there will be times when commitment is the only thing that carries you forward. David McNally commented, "Commitment is the enemy of resistance, for it is the serious promise to press on, to get up, no matter how many times you are knocked down." If you want to get anywhere worthwhile, you must be committed.
To improve your commitment, do the following:
- Measure It - Sometimes we think we are committed to something yet our actions indicate otherwise.
- Know what is worth dying for - One of the questions every leader must ask himself is, What am I willing to die for? If it came down to it, what in life would you not be able to stop doing, no matter what the consequences were? See if your actions match your ideals.
- Use the Edison Method - If taking the first step toward commitment is a problem, try doing what Thomas Edison did. When he had a good idea for an invention, he would call a press conference to announce it. Then he would go into his lab and invent it. Make your plans public, and you might be more committed to following through with them.
(From The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader by John Maxwell)