Having a big vision is a mixed blessing. For one thing, the bigger the vision, the more likely Integrity is on its way out.
Growing up, I heard a lot about “doing business on a handshake,” which meant honorable people kept their word to each other even without a signed document.
It was understood that “forgetting about” the agreement cemented by that handshake—or waffling on it—would damage one’s reputation in the community.
A promise does not exist in isolation. The issue of integrity is not a personal issue. There is always somebody else involved—or many somebodies.
My first thought when I’m not going to make a deadline is that I’m bad. It takes effort to set aside “showing how sorry I am,” so I can remember the strategic purpose that my promise serves.
It also takes compassion (on the part of the person who made the promise and the person to whom something has been promised) to let go of blame, so we can focus clearly on what needs to happen now (if a promise has been revoked or broken) and what it’s going to get back on track.
Developing ourselves as leaders requires scheduling time regularly to handle thinking as well as implementation. We’re training each other to speak up as soon as we realize we’re not going to get something complete by the time we promise it, and failure is part of the process. If we don’t speak up until the day before something’s due, it seriously hampers our ability to put corrections in place.
Constituting ourselves as leaders means pulling out all the stops to make sure what we promised — whatever piece of the puzzle that is — gets completed on time. That can mean rethinking priorities, deferring other actions, and asking for help. And almost always it involves getting over ourselves so that we have something bigger at stake than our pride.