Employee: What time is our meeting tomorrow?
Leader: 10am sharp. (something really important pops up right at 9:55am causing the leader to be very late to the meeting)
Unfortunately, these types of scenarios happen in the workplace every day! To the leader, they seem innocent and they hope their people will understand. To the employee, it can feel extremely discouraging.
One of the biggest ways leaders undermine their success is by making promises without keeping them. Often this happens for two reasons. One, the leader is well-intentioned and does plan to do what they say but then they get sidetracked. Two, a leader casually responds without putting much thought into what they are actually saying and promising. They may say one thing like “I’ll get back to you in an hour” when they really mean, “I’ll get back to you as soon as I can, but it may not be until the end of the day or even tomorrow.”
Leaders lose credibility and the trust of their team when they fail to realize those they lead believe and will hold them to what they say they are going to do. If a leader says they’ll get back to employee in an hour, understand that the employee will know when it has been an hour.
Don’t underestimate what your words mean to others. What you say with good intentions or casually will be remembered, scrutinized and analyzed by your people. Failing to follow through on what you say will diminish your ability to be an effective leader.
Thus, one of the best ways you can maintain trust and credibility is simply by doing what you say you are going to do, every time, no questions asked, end of discussion.
In the event there is a true emergency that causes you to break a promise, let the person know as soon as you possibly can, apologize, and explain why you did not do what you said you’d do. This should only happen on very rare occasions!
Too often too many leaders undermine their own success by failing to keep their promises.
So today, remember to be mindful of what you say, then do what you say you are going to do. Don’t trade trust and credibility for good intentions and casual talk. Be intentional about always keeping your promises!