January 12th, 2009 Systems posted by dmerritts View Comments

Do what you say you will do

Today, I ran into a situation where a leader is failing to deliver on a commitment. Sadly, this happens often with managers or business leaders. Ultimately, it erodes the person’s ability to lead effectively. This reminded me of one of the mantra’s that stuck with me from The Leadership Challenge by Posner and Kouzen.

They have a mantra in the book called: “Do what you say you will do,” or DWYSYWD (note: it sounds more like a development tool than a leadership tool, but I digress).

It’s simple: Don’t commit or say something that you’re not will or cannot do. This sounds simple, but is often difficult for leaders when they’re on the spot. Often less capable leaders will make commitments he or she is not able to follow through on. Living by this mantra requires reflection and thought before speaking. The weight of one’s communication will make or break the respect his or her team has for them.

So, before you commit or speak, make certain you can deliver. Otherwise, articulate your intent but not the definitive outcome or promise (implicitly or explicitly). This, of course, is only one aspect of leadership, but I think it’s one that leaders often spend less time thinking about.

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