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Whatever Happened to Commitments?

This week we had Glass Doctor’s leadership council meeting in Waco. As I scanned ten of our leaders for three days I noticed a couple of things.

These included:

—Leadership had nothing to do with any of their backgrounds;

—Age wasn’t important;

—Time in the business wasn’t important; and

—Education wasn’t important.

Passion, on the other hand, was a key! So was the word “commitment.”

On Saturday I had lunch with several of the council members before they headed back to their respective homes. Brad Roberson, our franchisee of the year three years ago from Brookhaven, Miss., was one of the leaders at lunch. I’ve always enjoyed Brad. He is one of those people who remind me of the E.F. Hutton commercials from many years ago. Brad is a person who listens much more than he talks. But when he talks—you better listen—because Brad is saying something important.

At lunch we talked about kids and Brad told a story about his son’s band camp a couple of years ago. Brad said band camp was brutal—going from early morning to late evening in a staggering Mississippi summer heat. His son called home after the first day saying he wanted to come home because it was “too hard.” Brad simply reminded his son that he had made a commitment to participate in the camp.

Fast forward a couple years to find out that his son now loves the band. But, he had to get through the difficult parts and not quit when the going got tough.

Brad’s story wasn’t a surprise to me. I remember Brad telling me several years ago about when he started in the glass business. Failure was not an option for him. Brad would do anything necessary, no matter how many hours it took, to be successful. Why? He had made a commitment to his family to do this and make it a success.

This reminded me of what we need to do as leaders with our teams. And yes, I’m talking about our team at work as well as our team at home. First of all, are you keeping your commitments to both of these teams?

Have you found yourself missing a school event with one of your kids because you got too wrapped up in what you were doing at work? Goodness knows that I, regrettably, did this along the way. Work got in the way of family way too often.

If this is the case in your life, do you need to redefine what you are doing and how you are doing it? And don’t give me the “you don’t understand … I’m working 70 hours a week for the family” line. If you are truly a leader you will find the time to keep your commitment to your family.

Take this to the work environment. This week I had to fire someone because they didn’t keep the commitments they made to my staff and me at our office. We had given this person several chances and he chose to not honor his work commitment. I didn’t feel bad at all making the change. After all, what he didn’t do affected many others who had to take on his work load.

The commitments you need fulfilled might be employees having to work on a Saturday. It might be they need to handle an emergency service after hours. It might be simply getting the VIN numbers correct on every windshield replacement.

What I’m asking you to do this week is take a fresh look at the word commitment and how you use this word with your employees. Instead of saying, “Okay then, I’ll plan on you covering the office on Saturday,” say, “I want to make sure that you are making a commitment to me that you will cover the office and the phones from 8 a.m. until noon on Saturday. I want you to understand that I am going to hold you to that commitment.”

Will it make a difference in how your employee behaves? Yes—if they understand that you trust that they will honor their commitments. Is this just a change of wording? I don’t think so. I think it may be a major change as to how they will handle their responsibilities and commitments in the future.

Thanks, Brad, for giving me … and all of us … another lesson on leadership!

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