Earn Trust and Influence

Over promising compromises the trust people have in you and your word.

58% of employees would trust a stranger more than their boss to deliver on a commitment made

Ever notice how often we loosely promise others and rarely follow through? Why is that? Why are we such optimistic creatures but too often fail to deliver on what we say? It’s not that we don’t want people to trust us at our word, but we fail to deliver on promises we make consistently.

“I will call you as soon as I’m out of this meeting.”

“I will email you within the hour.”

“You can expect that proposal before lunch.”

Do these promises sound familiar?

Accountability is where the rubber meets the road. It requires consistent follow-through and persistence. It goes beyond the promises we make by pushing us to do it. My father used to tell my sisters and me, “If you say you're going to do something, do it! Accountability will get you places before anyone else gets there.” His comments are truer today because we are losing the importance of accountability and follow-through.

Businesses place more value on how quickly we move rather than the quality by which we move. As a result, personal accountability and self-discipline are sacrificed. We wind up doubting others to deliver on what they say.

Does your team trust you to follow through? One Harvard Business Review study found that 58% of employees would trust a stranger more than their boss to deliver on a commitment made. We all want to be trusted, but not all of us can say we consistently follow through in a way that earns the trust needed to be truly influential. We desire the type of influence that when we speak, others take notice. To earn it, we must consistently follow through on our commitments Monday to Monday.  I challenge you to implement these three accountability tips to earn others’ trust and grow your workplace influence.

Own your commitments.

Be a person of your word. Sure, it sounds like common sense, but common sense is not common practice.  If you commit to someone, take it as seriously as you would a promise to a spouse, friend or family member. Write down your commitments throughout each day. Use your calendar to schedule time to follow through. Before ending work for the day, review your commitments to ensure you’ve followed through on each promise you’ve made.

Don’t “Try.” Do.

“I will try” is a non-committal overused phrase. It's a promise to others that you won't follow through on what you say. Everyone knows “try” means it won't happen. Say it aloud if you hesitate about what you can or can't commit to. Express the concern to others rather than making a promise you can’t keep. Ask a friend or coworker to call your attention to the word “try” each time you use it. Having someone point it out will help you recognize the moments you use this non-committal word.

Make Accountability a Habit.

Following through on a promise requires being conscious of what you commit to. If you accept a meeting invitation for a specific time, consider what you need to do ahead of time to ensure you can follow through. Does your schedule permit you enough time to drive to the location? Will you be off one virtual call in time to join the next one accepted? Too often, we fail to follow through on commitments because we overpromise and under-delivering. In most situations, you’re in control of your calendar and the commitments you make.

With continued accountability comes trust. With trust comes influence. People will come to rely on you and take you at your word. Like Dad always said, “If you say you’re going to do something, do it!

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