Making and keeping good agreements
Reading for Leading is a weekly leadership tip shared every Monday morning as a pithy suggestion, question or reflection. You can find the whole series here.
It’s that time of year when many of us are reflecting on the months that have passed and thinking ahead to resolutions for the year to come. But as leaders, we make promises or agreements throughout the year – and ensuring that we act with integrity and stay true to our word is vital for smooth-flowing team work. In today’s post we look at the practice of making and keeping good agreements.
There are four aspects to consider around making agreements with another person:
- Making clear agreements – This includes being precise about who will do what and when, making sure that when you say yes to something you really mean it, and keeping track of what you’ve promised.
- Keeping agreements – Which means delivering what you’ve agreed to do, by when you promised to do it. In reality, this may not occur 100% of the time – but if your ability to keep your word slips then you need to be able to follow points 3 and/or 4.
- Renegotiating agreements – This means going back to the person with whom you made the agreement as soon as you realise that you aren’t going to keep it. Renegotiating may include changing the scope of the agreement, moving the deadline or deciding not to do the agreed action at all. Typically, if the agreement made was clear (as per point 1) then renegotiation only happens rarely.
- Cleaning up broken agreements – If you’ve broken an agreement and also didn’t manage to renegotiate it, you can still clean up the broken agreement by acknowledging that you take responsibility for not doing what was agreed. The key here isn’t in explaining why the agreement was broken, but in acknowledging that it was so that the integrity that has been damaged might be restored. One periodic practice to restore integrity is to ask whether there are broken agreements in any area of your life that need acknowledgement and then schedule the necessary conversations to clean them up.
Source of Inspiration: Chapter 6 on Practicing Integrity in “The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership” – by Jim Dethmer, Diana Chapman and Kaley Warner Klemp.