Compliance is not Commitment

No one has every done anything that they didn’t want to do!

Almost everyone would disagree with that statement and everyone who disagrees would be wrong. Almost everyone would say they have been made to do something they didn’t want to do. It could have been by their parents, their boss, maybe a spouse (I hope not a spouse) maybe a friend or co-worker. But the fact is they didn’t really make you do something that you didn’t want to do. 

They found a way to make you want to do it.

They provided you with a choice. Either do this or something bad will happen to you. They made the “something bad” worse than the thing you would have preferred not to do. You considered your options and decided to do the thing you would have preferred not to instead of receiving the “something bad” as an alternative. 

You wouldn’t have normally “wanted” to do the thing you did but it was better than the “something bad” that was the alternative. 

That’s how compliance works. 

Limited leaders think that forcing their people to comply by using the “something bad” alternative makes them a leader. They are dead wrong!

Compliance can appear to work in the short term and it kind of does. A limited leader can have some short-term success by forcing a reasonable level of performance out of their people. But from the very beginning a compliance based leader erodes the trust and morale of their people. Compliance based leaders will always, always have “people issues” because people just aren’t made to be compliant. 

The people issues will look like attitude problems, attendance or tardiness problems, productivity problems, and general engagement issues.

When I see those issues and problems happen with more than a small percentage of an organization’s people it is unlikely that the organization has hired a bunch of malcontents, it is far more likely they are trying to force a bunch of good people to comply.

That’s a leadership issue. 

Authentic Servant Leaders do not need the compliance of their people because they have earned their commitment.  

Authentic Servant Leaders understand that earning the commitment of their people is a whole lot of work but they also understand that the payback can be huge. Most of their “people issues” disappear. While compliant people will eventually, kind of, sort of, get the job done a committed person will get the job done better and faster. The enthusiasm of committed people extends beyond an organization’s walls, infecting customers and other stakeholders with a sense of being part of something worthwhile. 

Committed people will outperform compliant people in virtually every way and in virtually every circumstance. 

If you’re going to excel as a leader you must absolutely understand that compliance is not the same as commitment. If you’re struggling with consistent people issues it is very likely that you are trying to lead by compliance. That just doesn’t work long-term, it never has and I find it hard to believe that it ever will.

So you’ll need to change your leadership style to earn the commitment of your people. Remember, you’re the LEADER, if you aren’t committed to change first then don’t expect any changes from your people.

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