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Leadership Competencies - Part 2 (Commitment)

The Relationship Model

Competencies are aspects of a person that make one successful at what one does. They are a complex combination of underlying characteristics, being influenced by that person’s values and beliefs, motives, attitudes, personality traits, self-image and attitudes as well as skills and knowledge.

We can determine a person’s competencies by observing their behaviour. The more effectively and consistently they display the behaviours associated with the respective competencies, the better their leadership performance. A person’s competencies therefore, are a window through which we can glimpse the person’s capability.

This week we shall look at Commitment.

Commitment – the attachment a person has when the beliefs and values, vision and mission of a person or organization are aligned with his or her own.

Beliefs and values lie at the heart of individuals and organizations. They make a person or an organization what it is. Whether they are acquired subconsciously or deliberately, beliefs and values give an individual one’s motives and life goals and an organization, its raison d’etre, vision and mission.

Commitment describes the emotional attachment people have to an individual or organization and what it stands for. Christian commitment arises from belief and trust in God and is lived out in the church, where shared commitment is expressed.

In order to be committed to an organization, it is necessary to know and understand the beliefs and values that lie at its heart. The more closely the individual and organizational values are aligned, the stronger the commitment. That is why organizations with a Christian faith basis or those built on a set of values which promote a particular cause, such as party politics, animal rights or pro-life, often attract supporters and staff with strong and lasting commitment.

A person’s behaviour arises from a set of values and beliefs. For an organization, values and beliefs give rise to its vision, mission, policies, and ultimately its practices. Rhetoric and practice must be integrated.

This is especially important for a person in leadership. When a leader’s words and actions are aligned with the organization’s beliefs and values, commitment is authenticated.

Because commitment involves the emotions, the form in which it is expressed varies from person to person. The degree of commitment may also vary from a mild attachment to work to a life transformed when a person’s beliefs, values, goals and lifestyle are radically impacted. Commitment may influence the choice or possibly the change of a person’s work, circumstances or location. Conversely, however, it would be inappropriate to judge a person’s depth of commitment by the type of work, lifestyle or location chosen.

Such life-impacting decisions must come from commitment that is personal and authentic, not simply theoretical or hereditary. For a Christian, this level of commitment reflects a deep emotional response to the claims of God. Such a person chooses to live to the highest moral and ethical standards, according to the values of the Bible (or another holy book).

Commitment at this level may be characterized by a deep desire to be “set apart” for service. This may lead to full-time Christian service in a mission or as a pastor. Strong commitment is also characteristic of many who have chosen to work in the service of others.

At a time when both religious and secular organizations are under increasing scrutiny, too often the values and beliefs claimed by the organization are not consistently and accurately expressed. Too often, the values promoted by the organization are in conflict with either the organizational practice or the behaviour of individuals who claim to follow them. A temporary or permanent misalignment occurs between the theory and practice or between the individual and organization.

The behaviours that demonstrate commitment include conscientiously fulfilling work responsibilities and speaking supportively of the organization’s vision and mission. It includes enthusiastically supporting the activities of the organization and a willingness to make an all-out effort on behalf of the organization. At times of crises, it may also include making sacrifices or putting personal commitments aside in order to meet organizational needs.

A leader may be an excellent strategist, manager or communicator. However, no abundance of other competencies, skills or experience will adequately compensate for a lack of commitment. It is a pre-requisite for anyone who in turn must engender and maximize commitment in others.

Les Stahlke, President/CEO
GovernanceMatters.com Inc.