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Commitment in Leadership Style: Do All Great Leaders Have It?
Leadership commitment is the desire to become better connected, more committed, and more capable today than you were yesterday. It is the willingness to learn continuously, and perhaps more importantly, to accept being taught. All great leaders possess this attribute.
Great leaders never settle for “good enough.” They look to become better connected with their inner core and the values and mission of their organization. They commit to continuous improvement, maintaining their motivation and zeal. At the same time, they nourish and enhance their skills and competencies.
Leadership and Commitment
In my books and blog posts about leadership development, I have often brought up the concept of leadership commitment as one of the cornerstones of intelligent leadership.
How can we define commitment? How does it impact your success, and by extension, the success of your organization?
What is Leadership Commitment?
In my book Intelligent Leadership, I have defined commitment as one of the three factors that comprise the foundation to unlocking your leadership potential. Together with capability and connectedness, commitment leads to personal and team success, eventually translating into organizational success.
As part of this triumvirate, commitment encompasses inner and outer core elements that I have named the leader’s “will-do.” Such elements are passion, drive, and motivation.
Commitment and Leadership Development
In addition to the “will-do,” commitment should also include a continuous willingness to learn and to be taught. From the perspective of the leadership development professional, it is easy to see why commitment makes or breaks any leadership development program.
A leader looking to improve while willing to absorb information from a trusted source is a leader who can consciously shape his/her attitudes and competencies.
The Lack of Leadership Commitment
It is reasonable to assume that few leaders squarely refuse to commit. Instead of resisting commitment, many leaders mistake it for budgeting, decision-making, and the continuous surveillance of processes and results.
It’s not easy to adopt the behaviors that make continuous learning and the willingness to be taught habitual.
In a business context, when faced with a problem, we tend to revert to instinctual reactions instead of a calm, measured approach that focuses not only on eliminating the problem but on learning from it and drawing conclusions for the future.
An instinctual reaction immediately overwhelms our senses with one objective: stop the problem! We tend to hide the problem or throw countermeasures against it, hoping to extinguish it.
A reaction focused on learning would first seek to understand the situation. Then, it would begin applying countermeasures to the problem, one at a time. This way, it can establish cause and effect and draw conclusions.
How Can You Attain and Maintain High Levels of Continuous Commitment?
Attaining an ideal level of leadership commitment is not just a matter of discipline.
Leaders who want to acquire the necessary skills have to act proactively and deliberately in this sense.
A leadership development coach is an obvious answer for most executives seeking to improve their commitment. The required skills are individual, and when you want to learn such skills, the best you can do is have someone teach them to you.
Furthermore, the skills you will need to improve your continuous commitment are interaction skills, which are even more difficult to learn without coaching.
Leaders who choose to go it alone should focus on developing positive habits around two vital processes: problem-solving and coaching.
Developing positive habits is the key to embracing continuous personal improvement.
Vision and Direction in Continuous Improvement
The first step in improving leadership commitment is to define a personal and organizational vision and direction. This point of reference provides an overarching theme for the effort. It also defines what counts as an improvement.
If your organizational vision is to provide affordable leadership coaching services, then anything that nudges you off course is derailment and not an improvement.
Having a clear vision and direction creates a situation where you no longer wonder whether you should do something. Instead, you focus your attention on the obstacles that stand in your way and on ways to defeat them.
With a vision and direction in place, focus on moving ahead in small steps while maintaining alignment. You don’t need a single, comprehensive plan to get from A to B. Setting some achievable immediate targets, on the other hand, is essential.