My letter of today is about commitment, and came as a personal reflection about my own way of action starting the beginning of the year.
Early January I made a commitment to myself and to you that I will show up on a weekly basis with new thoughts, ideas and pieces from my experience. In another words, my promise was to operate a weekly Newsletter.
Once the year started, other priorities came first and derailed me ... or should I better admit, I left myself derailed from the initial intention.
Then, the more time flew, the more I felt unsure about my initial intention. I started to second guess myself and to judge me as not being able to achieve this next small but significant step for me. And while my initial intention remained, I continued to postpone resuming newsletters and increasing evern more the time gap and my own frustration with this aspect.
At this point I realized what I was facing: it was my Hyper Achiever Saboteur who was screaming for attention and was trying to convince me that unless I will feel extremely bad with me not being able to commit, I will actually never be able to keep my promise and achieve this new step.
Hillarious, isn't it? But I guess some of you may even recognised yourself in this story. Not only because it is real, but Hyper-Achiever, next to Stickler and Controller, are the most common thinking saboteurs triggering emotional judgements and derailed decisions of managers.
I am back, with structured insights about how our ability to allow ourselves highjacked by our own thinking saboteurs negatively impacts our full commitment.
Hope you will find the ideas below useful and worthwhile sharing.
Commitment is paramount for managers, irrespective the level they operate in the organisation. We appreciate committed managers and find them trustworthy.
The way you, the manager, commit to an action, a plan, a relationship, a course of action, gives away lots of clues about who you are at your essence.
Searching the dictionary, the word commitment has two major nuances.
The first is related to engagement, dedication, loyalty, faithfulness, even devotion to a plan, to a cause, to a relationship, to a belief;
The second is related to acceptance of an obligation that somehow restricts the range of the known freedom.
What we appreciate about committed managers is the alignment we can observe between what they think, what they say, and what they do. This alignment produces a highly energetic environment, which other people will find very appealing and inviting, and will feel compelled to join.
The team will prosper in this alignment and will soon start emulating it. The people who are in a relationship with this manager, will also benefit from it. There will be no need for political manoeuvres, for shielding intentions. Communication is direct and effective. People use their energy in constructive ways, not for hiding or fighting, nor for resisting.
This manager will also benefit from it at personal development. Will seldom feel the need for extra protection, will not need to carry masks nor shields for when they might not have the entire control, will allow themselves to show up as human and perfectly imperfect, while still being able to move things ahead, and produce progress.
The quality of your commitment influences the environment in which will happen whatever you are committed to.
As you see, the quality of your commitment is an input. This means you need first to tackle the alignment between your thoughts, your words and your acts. Any gap in alignment will produce a negative hiccup in the environment and will lead in consequence to a drop in your commitment.
Do you know what kills this alignment both at individual level and at organisational level?
The standard with which you hold the rules: yours and those of the organisations.
As a manager you are responsible for maintaining this standard intact, whether you apply it in relation to your team as a whole, with each and individual team member, to other managers or stakeholders, or even to yourself.
I will give you several examples:
You are the CEO of the company. You are also the owner of the company, but people engage daily with you in your management quality. The company has a deep commitment to excellence and transparency. You personally took care to hire capable professionals, they are performing very well. You know that sales is what matters for the bottom line results, i.e. for the profitability of the company, and therefore you make sure the Sales Director will be mentioned anywhere and everywhere with their outstanding execution of company plans, while other operational directors or managers reporting to you are hardly praised or mentioned, although they are being as much or even more committed in terms of what they’ve put in to be sure that operations are highly performant. Not acknowledging the contribution in both effort put in and impact on the company results of all participants, will have a negative impact over the senior management team morale and definitely will take a toll on the long term commitment of the people you visibly exclude by omission.
You are the project manager of a complex project and your company follows strict rules for monitoring project progress. You meet on a weekly basis with your team to assess the project results. You are adamant about everyone coming prepared with insights and solutions to deal with budget variances. In spite of your clear request, almost in every project meeting your planner comes unprepared, saying she did not have time to review the results, and thus disturbing the project progress review. Instead of dealing with the situation right away and finding out what makes it possible to perpetuate this situation, you avoid the discussion because you know the planner will take it personally and your energy will get drained. You are the first one dropping the standard.
You are a managing director in a growing company. Because the company grew, you put in place a couple of managers who are supervising the functional employees while letting you operate at a more strategic level. Since this is a significant transformation, you introduced a routine by which every week you meet with the managers to discuss progress and employee’s concerns, if any. Still, you continue to receive directly the employees, who are coming to you to complain directly, instead of having discussed their concerns first with their managers. This not only is counterproductive for the results of the new organisational culture, but undermines the authority of your managers, who will not be anymore effective in the implementation of the change plans.
As CEO, for fear of losing clients, you give in to the client’s request at their slightest move of insatisfaction, irrespective of the quantity of the data and evidence your company produces indicating that what the client is actually asking are extras. Of course, to the expense of the company results, and sometimes of the people executing since you may say yes to additional work without moving deadlines.
You are the manager of a team of experts and have the annual feedback sessions with each individual of your team. You are much younger than your team members and know that you do not have their expertise. You admire their technical knowledge and vast technical experience, but are aware that your people have attitude issues due to each one fighting to be acknowledged as the best one over the others. In the feedback discussion with your people, you focus on the non-issue area - technical performance - and leave out the hot topic, not being able to enforce the ground rules of mutual respect and collaboration. While this is a punctual relief for you, it will bring a new year of putting off fires in the collaboration or rather lack of it, of these people, and it is a way for you just to postpone the break of a bigger bubble in the future, most probably corroborated with a project crisis where you will find your people being the main actors.
What do all these examples have in common?
A double standard with which the manager applies rules giving the people around the possibility to see jumps in the commitment displayed by the manager.
On one hand, the manager says something, and, in my experience, they also believe or mean it. But there are circumstances, when the manager’s behaviour will not match their words, nor their thoughts.
And this misalignment will make them break their own rules for life and action, as well as the organisational rules they committed to set, hold, guard or enforce.
The way managers choose to respond to challenging situations depends a lot on the inner resources of resilience they have. Being able to be aware of and to catch themselves when acting from judgement as opposed to from observation, is a muscle that can be developed.
It saves a lot of time and energy knowing how to intercept self-sabotaging (judging) and how to embody the sage powers, and shift towards clarity, focus, and meaningful and successful action.
In the long run, it protects and builds on your credibility as a manager or as a high achieving professional and allows you to scale up your positive impact in the organisation, and to be seen as a reliable solution for committing to bigger scopes with higher stakes. Because your full commitment can be trusted.
To build your resilience you can at any time book a discovery call with me and book for my specialised program “Master Your Resilience”.
In case you do not know your tendencies for self sabotaging, take this assessment.
I put together a practical pocket guide, giving you the ability to recognise and bust these saboteurs at work. Download it here (free).
Write me if you have any questions about it. As always, I am very interested to know what you take to be useful from this letter and how you are going to apply it.
I thank you for being part of my world.
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