That is a very profound question indeed. How important is it to keep your agreements with the people in your personal and professional life? When you make an agreement with someone, it is your word, your commitment to something. The agreement is a reflection of YOU. This is how you show up in the world and how you are perceived. You are as good as your word…..or not.
In the workplace, we make agreements all day long, some simple and some complex. Our team agrees to show up to work, we agree to pay them on paydays. Our entire working life is made up of agreements. Some of the agreements are just unconscious for us and we just do them. However, it is the complex agreements, those consciously co-created agreements that may be the ones that are challenging for leaders and team members.
Effective leadership begins with managing agreements and not the people. It begins with a respectful, healthy dialog between a leader and a team member, in an adult-adult working relationship. Far too many times that relationship becomes like a parent/child relationship and the conversation is, “Do what I say….and no complaining or backtalk!” Sound familiar? Maybe when you were growing up? This is an example of an unhealthy relationship in the workplace.
In his book, 100 Ways to Motivate Others, Steve Chandler states, “The biggest beneficial impact of managing agreements is on communication. It frees communication up to be more honest, open and complete” (50). However, this healthy communication has to begin with the leaders first. They need to be the role model and mentor for the healthy behaviors they want to see. When the leader keeps his or her agreements and models how to keep the agreements, it gives others permission to be the same way.
Some keys to making sure that your leadership style is the model of keeping agreements:
- Take a deep heartfelt look at your life. Do you keep agreements with yourself? Do you keep your agreements with your family, friends and colleague?
- Make a conscious effort to pay attention to what comes out of your mouth. You may be saying one thing and doing another.
- If you haven’t been as honest or living in the integrity you want to, tell the truth and admit it. When others see that you are human and you acknowledge your shortcomings, they will have more respect for you.
- Acknowledge yourself for the commitments you do keep.
- Before you meet with a team member to discuss agreements, set an intention for an adult-adult healthy dialog.
- Document the agreement and review it.
- Acknowledge your team members when they keep their agreements! Your actions are a positive reinforcement for the behavior you want to see!
Creating a culture of healthy responsible people, who keep agreements, can have a profound effect on your team environment and in turn your customers and profits with will reflect the results.