Leading for Compliance vs. Commitment [vlog]

Is your leadership style all about ensuring compliance or engendering commitment? In this vlog (video-blog) episode, I discuss the difference in the business results and employee engagement that can result from each leadership approach. What do you think? Use the comments below to jump into the conversation - I look forward to hearing from you!


Halelly: Welcome to this episode of the TalentGrow vlog, where I’m going to discuss two concepts that come up a whole lot in my work with leaders. Those are the issue of compliance versus commitment. Now, think about this – compliance and commitment, two very different kinds of goals. But when you have employees orienting their work toward one or the other, the kind of work that results is going to be of a very different quality.

So let’s think about how do people work when their goal is to be compliant? Compliance means that you’re trying to meet some requirement that’s stipulated by policy, by a law, by procedures, by instructions, very specific and oriented toward the control of the way in which you work, so that the results match some predetermined quality. This is important, and in a lot of work places this is something that cannot be ignored. But if all of the leader’s work is oriented toward achieving compliance, something else is going to happen that they may not have planned on. How do people work when they’re trying to meet the minimum requirements? Do they give discretionary effort? Do they go above and beyond the call of duty? Typically not. Are they able to think innovatively, to change the way that they’re doing things because they have a new idea or because they think that they can improve on it? A lot of times they can’t. They don’t feel like they have the freedom to do it. So compliance gets people to work hard toward the minimum requirements and that’s about as far as they’ll go.

Now, let’s think about commitment as something very different. When people work in a way that’s oriented towards commitment, it means that they care about the results, that they have some kind of a drive to achieve a purpose or a mission that they think is important. Now, the kind of work that this generates is really different than the kind of work compliance generates. Because if you’re doing something you care about, you’re not going to do the minimum requirements. Since when do we work on something that’s important just to meet some minimum requirements? We don’t do that. Employees are going to work through commitment in a way that really gives them the opportunity to be innovative, to put their whole effort into it, to give above and beyond, because they want the results to be good, because they think that the results matter.

So as a leader, are you generating work that meets compliance? Or are you generating commitment and generating results that surpass compliance and go above and beyond? It’s in the way you lead. Think about it.