It’s surprising how many people, even those in leadership roles in large organizations, do not really know what they want. They are good people with good motives and good ideas. They work hard and get a lot done. But their values are inconsistent; their vision is not clear. They are wandering in fog.
To ultimately realize the power of commitment, you must be sure of where you are going and what attitudes and behavior will ensure that you arrive at your destination with your head held high.
Commitment has its origins in clearly perceived values and vision.
Simply stated, our values reflect what we consider important. Usually, they have developed over time and reveal who we really are. Values are motivators; they give us reasons for why we do or don’t do things.
Values drive behavior. Typically, we chase what we love. Jesus said it well: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Too often we get it backward and find our behavior driving our values. We allow our actions to dictate our fundamental values rather than creating a set of values and standing firm in them. In this situation we allow our “want to” to overtake our “ought to.” Since these values usually do not match, we give in and are controlled by the short-term “want to” rather than the longer-term “ought to.”
Let’s define vision in this post as, “uncompromising, undebatable truths.” The emphasis on truth is important because values are not always the more positive human attributes. An example of such warped values is the practice of some inner-city gangs who require members to commit a robbery or worse to prove personal courage and loyalty to the group.
Stephen Covey, in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, writes,
The Character Ethic [set of values as used here] is based on the fundamental idea that there are principles [values] that govern human effectiveness—natural laws in the human dimension that are just as real, just as unchanging and unarguably “there” as laws such as gravity are in the physical dimension.
Commitment is not worth much if you have a distorted vision and rotten values. It is crucial, then, for leaders to develop the right core values. Right actions flow out of right values such as integrity, honesty, human dignity, service, excellence, growth, and evenhandedness. This set of values will determine much about the vision that leaders create and how they work with and through people—essentially how they lead and to what they are committed.
Developing and committing to values is only part of the equation. Leaders also need to form a vision. These two ideas—values and vision—are inseparable. Vision flows from our values, and the values we live by form the platform for our vision. A leader’s strength of commitment determines how well he or she will stick to either one.