Commitment Is Rare

Many people think that making a decision is the same as making a commitment. This could be the farthest from the truth. Actually, the hardest decisions oftentimes have the weakest commitments, particularly the larger the group size.

Does this scenario sound familiar to you? More than a year is spent thinking about something; maybe even a committee is created to evaluate it. Consultants are hired; friends and colleagues are conferred with. Money is spent for market research, and finally an affirmative decision is made. The project, system, process, or other decision is placed into action, and all of a sudden the inevitable happens – problems arise – big problems, little problems, and attitude problems.

What happens to most people’s level of commitment when faced with these problems? Rather than addressing the problems, they ignore all of the thought that went into making the decision and allow emotion to take over. Their commitment to the decision it took them a year to make crumbles, and with it the chance of following through on the decision.

Commitment is often missing in many organizations. Many times it results from a lack of healthy debate in meetings or because a leader or leaders discourage opinions that differ from their own. Many decisions are the result of false consensus and weak buy-in. By having productive conflict and tapping into everyone’s perspectives and opinions, everyone can confidently buy in and commit. Even those who voted against the matter at least know their issues have been heard and considered.

Another issue that arises and hurts commitment is consensus building. Great teams know the danger of seeking consensus and certainty and find ways to achieve buy-in from the rest of the team. The leader’s role is to demonstrate decisiveness and to communicate awareness and acceptance of the fact that some decisions may turn out wrong. He or she must push decisions around issues, as well as adhere to schedules that the team has set. The leader must cascade messaging to key people in the organization to support follow-through on decisions so that everyone is clearly aligned.  The leader must not show weakness in making decisions and take action when fellow leaders show a lack of support.  Particular attention should be given to those people that take passive-aggressive approaches to undermine decisions. I have low tolerance for this type of behavior, because for me, a failure to strongly support the decisions of your leaders is the equivalent of helping the competition and is a form of dishonesty. If these people want to help the competition they should go work for them.


Howard Shore is a business growth expert who works with companies that want to maximize their growth potential by improving strategy, enhancing their knowledge, and improving motivation. To learn more about him or his firm please contact Howard Shore at 305.722.7213 or