In last week’s blog, we promised to continue the discussion about commitment, but also to focus on the influence that leadership has on commitment. From my perspective, there is a direct relationship between  commitment and loyalty (but that’s another story to be pursued at a later time).

When the subject of commitment surfaces, the most common focus is on the workplace. It is also not uncommon for managers to say, “If only my team wascommitted to what they were doing”, without considering who is directly responsible for leading the team. The truth is that the manager is the one accountable to the level of commitment displayed by the team. You can’t have one without the other.

One manager recently told me,  “I have been involved in countless meetings where people made commitments to each other about actions to be taken. However, not only were these actions never taken, but when people left those meetings, most of them knew their commitments would never be fulfilled.”

It seems commitment has taken a back seat to convenience, which causes difficulties.

If you are a manager or leader of people, there are a couple important questions to ask yourself:

1. Do you think it is important for your team to be committed? Hopefully you answered in the affirmative. (If not you don’t belong in that position, so look for another line of work)

2. As a manager or leader, what are your responsibilities to make commitment happen?

Can you recall a time when you were  totally committed to something? What words would you use to best describe this feeling?

I recently asked these questions to a group of people and heard words like "desire", "determination", "excitement", "heart", "passion", and other emotional words and phrases. However, when I asked the same of a group of managers, I heard other terms connected to performance, such as "efficiencies", "effectiveness", "goals", "objectives", "return on investment", etc.

We want people on our team to learn that true employee commitment occurs when the individual actually feels commitment. Mentally “buying in” and “being on-board” is simply not enough. True commitment means being emotionally engaged.

Therein lies the problem: a gap in the level of commitment in the workplace. Too often managers focus too much energy on achieving intellectual buy-in from their employees. They give all the logical reasons why their employees should be committed to a certain course of action. Most of the time, that course of action seems to make logical sense, so everyone agrees.

Since everyone seems to be in agreement, the manager assumes the actions will be taken, which will lead to success and goal achievement. However, in many of these cases, the intellectual buy-in falls short of the goal, because the emotional buy-in was missed. The manager failed to get the employees emotionally engaged to take personal action. The employees just agreed that things “should be done”, but failed to be emotionally connected to “getting it done”.

This is a big reason why so many books and articles have been written about the difference between managers and leaders. Managers focus on the logical side of work and getting intellectual buy-in, while true leaders are able to capture the emotional buy-in.

When we fail to help our people become emotionally invested, we are dooming ourselves to less than satisfactory results. We must remember there is a huge difference between “I should” and “I want to”.

Leaders provide an atmosphere for people to become emotionally committed. Leaders provide the environment to entice people to do things that need to be done, even the most difficult challenges. They realize people are not totally committed until they are emotionally committed. Intellectual commitment is just not enough.

Bottom line, if managers are not seeing comittment from their employees, they don’t have to look far to find the reason why. Leadership is what truly drives the level of commitment. Think about it.