December 2012

Shannon Wells

Better Business | by Neil Ducoff


Do What You Say You're Going to Do

A leader's role is to see everything.

You look for the right thinking, behavior and performance that will lift your company to its desired outcomes and vision.

You make more tough decisions than fun decisions. You coach people to achieve their full potential. You keep projects on task. You look to the future to ensure the company prospers and endures.

And through all the twists and turns that embody the role of leader, nothing matters more than your ability to establish a culture of integrity and trust.

Integrity and trust are earned one day at a time -- one deed at a time. The title of leader is nothing more than an opportunity for you to demonstrate your ability to lead with integrity and confirm that you're not just a lot of talk -- perhaps even a jerk.

What many leaders fail to recognize is they are in the fish bowl under constant scrutiny of employees, customers, vendors and the community. Simply put, all you do and say is being evaluated and judged in real time.

This "I'm watching you watching me" is all part of the natural process of how a leader builds character and masters the ability to lead with integrity and trust. Here are some no-compromise strategies to ensure that you do what you say you're going to do:

Your word is your contract: Keep commitments. Nothing destroys trust or whittles down your integrity than telling someone you're going to do something and not do it. The size of the commitment doesn't matter.

Promising to return a phone or email call before the end of the day, telling an employee that you'll get back to her with answer, or just being on time for a meeting, is the stuff that defines the no-compromise leader. Breaking commitments, showing up late or not showing up at all is compromise. When you give your word, deliver on your word.

Live your own rules: Leaders that take the "do what I say, not as I do" path have the unique privilege of leading contaminated cultures full of drama and inefficiency. Leaders that can't show up on time are enabling that behavior in those they lead.

Leaders that can't deliver their projects on time, set the precedent for others to disregard deadlines. Model and mentor the thinking and behavior that will shape and define your company's culture.

Your mood is your company's mood: Yes, you have massive pressure on you at all times. You push revenues. You fight to protect cash flow. You deal with performance issues, turnover and behavior problems. You deal with crazy "how the heck did that happen?" problems. All this stuff is stressful and chips away at your mood. Your challenge is to keep your game face on and not allow your mood to infect everyone around you. Your employees can tell when you're in a foul mood just by looking at you.

The danger of disconnect: Leaders have so much to do and so many distractions coming at them, it's easy to disconnect from their people and monitoring what's really going on. Doing what you say you are going to do requires a commitment to stay engaged and not get lost in that shiny new project. A leader charges off on a new project and leaves the company to run on autopilot. Companies never run on autopilot -- they spring leaks and slow down. If you really need to disconnect, you must have a leadership backup in place with the skills to plug in when you unplug.

You are allowed an "oops": You are not a super hero. Stuff happens. If you absolutely know you cannot deliver what you promised, give those on the receiving end advanced warning as far in advance as possible. Anything less than 24 hours is a compromise -- unless there is a true crisis to deal with.

I work hard on keeping commitments. It's hard work when things get crazy and my plate is full. My team members count on me. Customers count on me. It hurts too much to break trust or have my integrity questioned to not deliver what I promise. That's the work of being a no-compromise leader.

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Neil Ducoff is the founder and CEO of Strategies, a business training and coaching company specializing in the salon and spa industry. His is author of Fast Forward, No-Compromise Leadership and Wake Up! For signed copies, go to You can email Neil at