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.

Compliance or Commitment?

One of the biggest differences between someone who tries to manage people and someone who truly leads people is this: a manager may have the compliance of their people but a true leader has their commitment. 

If you don’t think that’s a huge difference then answer this. Which employees do you think serve an organization better, compliant employees or committed employees? Which would you rather work with, somebody who only does what they are told because they “have to” or someone who does whatever needs to be done because they “want to?” 

Pretty much any boss or manager can force their people to comply. They simply make the consequences of not complying worse than what they are asking their people to comply with. 

Having the compliance of your people isn’t the worst thing in the world but compliant people rarely perform up to the standards required to grow a business. They create a tension in an organization that leads to under-performance on many levels. 

Compliant people need constant direction and follow-up. Compliant people do only what they are told and seldom provide more than the minimum effort required to complete a task. Compliant people believe that “good enough” is indeed good enough.

It requires leadership to gain the commitment of people. Authentic Servant Leaders know that they must earn the right to lead. They know it is earned by demonstrating sincere caring for those individuals who they would lead. If your people don’t believe that you care about them they will find it nearly impossible to commit to you as a leader. 

Commit to you as a leader….do you understand that part? People don’t commit to positions or titles, they don’t commit to companies or organizations and they don’t commit to jobs. People commit to people and if you want them to commit to you as a leader then you must frequently SHOW that you care about them as a person. 

Caring as a leader is NOT a weakness, it is in fact a tremendous strength. It is a strength required for Authentic Servant Leadership. 

Once your people know you care then they can commit. Once committed they immediately outperform the merely compliant members of an organization. They consistently go the extra mile, they find solutions rather than just looking for problems. Committed people know that “good enough” never really is good enough so they strive for excellence in all that they do. 

Simply put, compliant people are a business expense, committed people are an asset. Which one does your business or organization need more of in order to grow and prosper?

I thought so…